This morning, on my way to paint, reminded me of
"Winter is Coming..." (Game of Thrones...)
I went out painting today with an old friend, Eduardo Fernandez. (You can see some of his work here.) We've known each other for years now and we try to meet up at least every couple of months or so, if not sooner, to paint side-by-side.
He called last night to ask if I would like to come out to paint on Sauvie Island in the morning. The weather was looking a little dicey so I checked the forecast and then said sure, yes. The forecast was for a single morning shower and then partly cloudy skies the rest of the day. When I woke up this morning I was feeling a little lazy and decided to just pack the watercolors. So I had some coffee, hopped into the car, and drove out to meet Eduardo. When I arrived we decided to consolidate into his car and leave mine behind. We then drove off to find a suitable subject and eventually ended up somewhere in the middle of the island on the edge of somebody's private property, looking down a picturesque dirt road.
However, by the time we pulled over the rain had settled in slow and steady, and...oh, hey, did I mention I only brought the watercolors? I might be new to this watercolor thing, but even I know you can't paint with it in the rain. So I asked Eduardo if I could set up in the car and he said sure, no problem, and he decided to do the same. Thinking of myself as pretty clever, we switched seats so I could use the steering wheel as an easel and he set himself up on the passenger side with his Open Box M on his lap. Comfy and easy-peasy, right? Plein air from behind the windshield.
Here is my set up:
Nope, it was more like trying to paint a picture while sitting in an airline seat, with about the same amount of space to lay out your stuff. But unlike most planes, a car has an infinite number of narrow nooks and crannies for stuff to drop into. Really, what were automotive engineers thinking about when they designed contemporary car interiors? It's not just all about airbags, impact absorbing knee panels, and cupholders, right? Shouldn't they be considering the needs of the in-the-car painter as well?
Here is Eduardo, immediately to my right, already well into it. I had to lower the driver's window to take this shot. The wide angle lens is lying. It makes it appear there is a lot of room when believe me, there wasn't...
Here is one of two clamps Eduardo happened to have in the back of the SUV. Good thing too, because if he hadn't remembered they were there my hopes of painting inside the car would have been dashed at the first raindrop. But once the clamps were fixed to the wheel I was able to rest the watercolor block at a convenient angle. So far so good. However, since the horn was now directly underneath the painting I took care not to press too hard on the brush...
And speaking of brushes – there was no place to put them where they wouldn't roll off into a nook or cranny so I 'Macgyvered' a temporary brush bandolier out of some masking tape and hung them on my left out of the way. This was, of course, after I managed to fish the roll of tape out of the cranny between the driver's seat and middle console, where it had dropped as I was attached the clamps...
And... um... yes... well the rinsing reservoir had to go somewhere, right?
So for the next three hours Eduardo and I painted through the windshield, as if we were seat mates on a regional flight, elbows tucked in, trying not to hog the middle arm rest, and awkwardly trying to not impinge upon each other's space. "Would it be okay if I moved your roll of paper towels?" "Can you reach the cad yellow behind my seat?" "Hey, careful, that's the turpentine!... OMG, don't spill the turpentine!" (I was glad to be in his car. ha!)
Here are Eduardo's oil brushes, conveniently cantilevered out from a small dashboard shelf below the CD player. A perfectly fine place to put them where they can quickly be picked up or set down. That is, until I somehow I accidentally raked my best Kolinsky sable brush across the tip of the big green one, a brush loaded with a lot of peach colored oil paint. I winced as I swished the Kolinsky in Eduardo's turps, and quietly put it away for later cleaning...
I should add that as we were working we were constantly turning the wipers on and off to clear the windshield, and rolling the windows up and down as needed to ventilate. Even so, the drops kept collecting and the interior kept steaming up and eventually we discovered when you run your car's wipers and windows for three hours it runs down the battery. We were dead in the water miles from the main road and it was still drizzling. Geez, who would have thought?
Fortunately, Eduardo drives a stick so it only took a little push down the dirt road to pop the clutch and fire up the engine. More 'Macgyvering', eh? I wonder how many of you kids today know you can do that?
Here in Oregon, when it rains it rains. And when you gotta paint, you gotta paint...
Afterwards we drove towards the bridge to find some lunch. We found some tasty sausages and beer at a local farm. And, my watercolor painting? The one I worked so hard to protect? Never mind. It was a complete disaster. Even my wife said so.
It sucked so much it will never, ever, see the light of day...