I enjoy the adventures of Frog and Toad. In the story “The List”, found in “Frog and Toad Together” by Arnold Lobel, Toad creates “A list of things to do today.” I love his list. I wish it were my list. Let me share his list with you.
A list of things to do today
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Go to Frog’s house
- Take walk with Frog
- Eat lunch
- Take nap
- Play games with Frog
- Eat Supper
- Go to sleep
It just sounds so relaxing and yet productive at the same time. My lists are nothing like this. And yes, I said lists. I have a list of things that I intend to accomplish each day, a grocery list, a list of all of my art supplies – an inventory list. I also have a list of all of my work – another inventory list. I have a list of all of my customers. I have a list of what is in the freezer, although I don’t use that list very well. I have lists of what to pack for classes that I teach – even for different days of the classes, and a list of what to pack for an art fair. OK, maybe I have too many lists, but they are so helpful, when I use them.
One of my most useful lists is my Plein Air Packing List. (Plein Air Painting is an artwork done from life on location.) I have had people laugh at me but really, I have been hours from home only to realize that I forgot something. And this doesn’t just happen to me. One year I was at a paint-out event (a plein air painting event) where someone needed an eraser, not to erase I am sure! Erasing to erase is a no-no in my world. Someone else forgot his palette knife. A packing list is just the best tool to ensure that you don’t forget anything.
If you have never painted out in the great outdoors and are curious about it, I suggest that you make your first trip out to your backyard. As you pack, make a list. When you set up, add to your list all of the things that you forgot or now think would be beneficial. I break my list down into sections. I have one section that list everything that I need just to paint. I have another section that lists what I need for a paint-out competition and sale. I have sections for Promotional Materials, Extras, Clothing, Personal Care and Food. These might sound like strange sections, but under “Personal Care” for instance, I list sunscreen and bug spray. And taking along food will allow you to paint longer.
I also have a list of notes from my paint-out experiences. Reviewing what went well or badly is helpful too. No, I don’t have Alzheimer’s… yet. I call it being a mom. And I like Einstein’s theory of not memorizing anything you can look up.
Some of my notes from the past:
- Pack 7/16 wrench.
- Not every piece needs to be completed. I can learn from the process.
- The sketch doesn’t need to be all that detailed. I am just thinking through what I want to do.
- I tried using a View Finder to establish the composition. I found it awkward to work with.
- I tried working without using a View Finder. I established the height and width of the focal point (a tree) and went from there. But as I added surrounding scenery, I lost the focus of the painting. I didn’t finish this piece, but I did learn from the process.
- Try a Quick Draw – a Timed session
- Try to get the feeling of distance. Start with a sketch!
- If cloudy, try an approach similar to (some other specific works that I created).
- Simplify! Try a grouping of__________, not the entire garden.
- If light appears to be constant, I can work on something more ambitious.
- First attempt – from 2008. It went very well. Light was constant. Time was 4:30 – 6:30. I focused on making one tree the focal point.
- Second attempt – from 2008. Didn’t go as well. I forgot my tripod! I ended up sitting on the ground, and had to keep shifting to capture the view that I wanted.
- Need to ask about prices, they seemed rather low. This was in response to a paint-out and sale.
- Carry brochures and framing gear for competitions and sales.
- Do sketches first! Just to double check my original idea. It might not work.
- Argh! I just had a feeling that these events were much more structured than “just show up!” This one was huge. I called the organizers because this was my first big paint-out, and I wanted to make sure that I had the details down. I was told to just show up. For two days I thought that I was the only artist who showed up for the event. I finally found the official location at 1:00 on the last day of the event. Someone came around 1:30 to inform me that I needed to turn my work in for the show… what show?! So much for just showing up. Funny now, but…
- Check website and read throughly
- Re-read throughly
- Ask questions because EACH PAINT OUT IS DIFFERENT. For one paint out event, I spent too long trying to find the check in point. They were supposed to put out balloons – they didn’t. And then, I didn’t need to check in. I wasted precious time trying to find the check in point when I could have been painting! For some events, you must check in to have your paper stamped to ensure that you are starting with a blank canvas.
- Get out early!
Looking over this list I see that I have mentioned something about sketches more than once. That is something I can’t ignore. Your list, of course, will reflect you. It is different composing a painting from a photo verses from the great outdoors. In the photo, the composition is somewhat worked out for you. Next time, I will share what I did to resolve the view-finder issue. Well, look at that! I now have something to add to my “List of Things to Blog About.”