Plein Air in Columbus, TX

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Columbus, Texas hosts an annual historic event called Columbus Folk Fest. This year they are sponsoring me to Plein air paint. Going along with my current “portraits of nature” series, I decided to paint many of the huge Live Oaks in town. These are 200 to 400 years old and some of the largest in Texas, with gnarled up trunks, and branches that spread out over 100+ feet. Folks here know their history and love the oaks, so hopefully they’ll like these portraits when I’m done.
I’m doing sketches at first and then attempting a block-in for a painting now.

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As a quick side story about this painting, my first attempt of a big oak painting was a fail. Big time. I was in the center of town near the courthouse and knew I needed to stop and escape the public eye until I understood these trees better. So I found another big tree at a schoolyard where kids run around it. Perfect scene. I tucked away to the side to paint and an hour into it, I’m really struggling. It looks like blots of abstract colors all over in an attempt to be a tree. All of the sudden all these cars line up behind me, the PE teacher blows her whistle and runs over to tell me my parked car is holding up the line of parents to pick up their kids. Unfortunately, my easel stands like a display in full daylight and while I move the car, slowly, one by one over fifty cars stroll by and look at the abstract mess. If I was with another painter I’d stand back and point at him. I heard one man suggest another tree. Oh well. I’ve been here many times before and know it takes a hundred little mistakes to break through and figure it out. The struggle is part of an accomplishment.

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