Outside the Norm
Plein Air painting is painting outside on location, which has its rewards and challenges. The sounds of the area, the feel of the light, and the weather conditions become a part of the creative process. Finding a bathroom can be tricky.
Recently, I was visiting an unfamiliar city on personal business and decided to scout a painting spot. My attempts to find a suitable painting spot were disappointing: There must be parking off the road, a scenic subject, no high-speed traffic whizzing by, and no loose dogs. I finally found a promising spot late in the afternoon. It was a quiet road just off a main street; there was a pull-off for my car; there were no houses in view, only rolling farm fields (plenty of time to spy approaching dogs). I thought about how it would look as the sun sank lower in the evening, backlighting the spring trees against the yet unplanted fields.
As I was scouting, a car pulled up next to my old, green station wagon. I wondered if it was the farmer whose field I was near. Sometimes farmers offer cookies and lemonade. I started down the hill to my car, hoping they were chocolate chip cookies.
The driver of the other car pulled back onto the pavement and rolled down his window. I could see a head wearing a cap sticking out of the window, but we were still quite a few yards apart, not at conversational distance. But, he yelled out to me anyway.
“Is that your car?”
“Yes,” I called back.
Still shouting, he said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
I shook my head.
“Where are you from?”
“Why are you here?” he hollered.
“To go to the Mayo clinic.”
“No, why are you here?”
Continuing to yell over the noise of the traffic on the main street, I answered, “I’m a painter. I’m looking for a place to paint.”
Before rolling his window back up, he announced, “I’m the Captain of the “neighborhood watch”. I guess I won’t call the sheriff on you.”
Would the sheriff know a better place to paint, I wondered? And, wait a minute, Mr. Neighborhood, what ever happened to neighborly places where people ask, “Do you need any help?
I drove back to my hotel room for supper. I didn’t get back to paint that spot because it clouded up and started raining. But it was a lovely field.
So, if you see my green station wagon pulled to off the road, please feel free to come see what I’m doing. Cookies and lemonade are optional. And call the sheriff only if he or she can give me directions to the nearest public restroom.