Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plein Air - Documenting Local Landmarks

"Saturday Market" - 11x14 watercolor -

Nothing ever stays the same....except for a moment in time captured by a plein air artist. I painted Saturday Market during the farmer's market 2 years ago. In the background is a "pocket park" (trees within) & left of that (the green building) is the 1879 Chisolm Grill. I love the home-town feel and energy that is always present in our downtown. Saturday is one of my favorite days to paint "down on the square".

I've always been an advocate for the importance of working en plein air, especially in historic districts. Documenting local landmarks by an artist offers an interpretation and visual reference that no camera can replicate. I don't mean studio work....this is about painting on location...on a street corner.....oblivious to the elements, on-lookers and the sting of sunburn. For several years, my outdoor studio has been on all 4 corners of the Waxahachie courthouse square and points between.

"Oma's Jiffy Burger" - 7x10 watercolor

Oma's is a favorite hangout in downtown. Located just a block off the square, "regulars" gather early for breakfast and then show up later around lunch time for the best burger in town. I was commissioned to paint Oma's by a loyal patron with a special fondness for the little cafe. It was difficult to concentrate with the distracting aroma of burgers & fries wafting across the street.

"Waxahachie Depot" - 8x10 watercolor

This little plein air is in my sketchbook painted  last summer. The depot had been empty for several years and was in serious disrepair. Anticipating deterioration to the point of collapse, I painted it; and, for me at least, suspended the march of time. The building has since been purchased and completely restored by the City. I love the "new" old depot building and look forward to many hours of painting it from every angle.

As I said at the beginning of this post...nothing ever stays the same. Several months ago, our community awakened to the charred remains of 3 historic buildings on our beloved historic courthouse square. The tragic fire destroyed a restaurant, attorney's office, antique store, and a barber shop. The "pocket park" on the corner of College and Franklin received extensive damage from a collapsed wall. In the background of Saturday Market, the painting at the beginning of this post, are the buildings that were lost in the fire. I'm thankful for the countless hours spent painting along that street. Even though the skyline on one side of the square is forever changed, I have the memory (and a painting) of it....and look forward to the new skyline that will take it's place. The rebuilding process has begun and my sadness is replaced with an excitement and anticipation of painting new "landmark" buildings downtown.

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