Plein-Air Distractions

The Plein-Air painting competition was last weekend. What an experience! Pleasanton is not a sleepy little town; I and other artists had barely time to paint between pods of runners from Fleet Feet, the shoppers from the Farmer’s Market, and weekend lunch crowds. Each site I selected brought new distractions and  drama.

At my first site at around noon, a woman took a tumble on the uneven bricks in front me. She had hit her head with quite a knock. I ran over and I donated my clean (they had just been laundered) rags to stop the bleeding.  Her daughter (grown) and I tried to keep the injured woman calm. An ambulance was called, and soon a fire truck full of paramedics arrived. Fortunately, she seemed fine; more embarrassed than concerned. Once I saw she was in good hands I packed up my easel and moved to the second site.


Gay Nineties Restaurant

The First Site: “Gay Nineties Restaurant, Pleasanton”, 8″ x 10″ canvas, acrylic.

I hauled my easel, paints, and bag up  Main Street looking for second site in the afternoon light. Dappled shade covered the west side of Main street and a few buildings stuck out with interesting architectural features. I decided on the tiniest building on the block; Pleasanton Jewelers. I set up my easel across the street and began to paint on my tiny canvas.

Less than a half hour into my painting and I discovered I had an audience. Not just the curious passersby but a mother squirrel and her three adorable babies! Disney lived in the tree next to my easel. The mother was kissing, cleaning, and carrying her brood up and down the tree. I pointed her out to folks stopping by, while I tried to complete my little art.

Pleasanton's Little Jewel

The Second Site: “Pleasanton’s Little Jewel”, 6″ x 6″ canvas, acrylic.

Late Saturday afternoon the shadows overtook the West side of the street and my feet hurt from standing since early morning. I headed home. I returned Sunday bright and early and worked on Site One painting again, adding details, such as the light, the flag, and the flowers around the side of the canvas. It did not take long and finished too early to start on the Pleasanton Jewelers canvas.

I pulled out another tiny canvas, 6″ x 6″, and began painting the building next door to the Pleasanton Jewelers. This way I could keep an eye on the shadows. I wanted a simple, quick study without too much detail: Starbucks was perfect. Their structure is devoid of architectural detail, signage, paintings, etc. I did take some time to add the people sitting in front. Before I finished, the light in front of the Jewelers returned. I painted without distraction on Sunday, even the mother squirrel was spending the afternoon up in her nest. I headed to the competition with my paintings in hand.


“Starbucks, Pleasanton”, 6″ x 6″ canvas, acrylic

I submitted the “Pleasanton’s Little Jewel” as my piece. I did not win, and was not surprised once I saw the competition. Fifteen artists displayed their work, I posted pictures of the folks who arrived early. What I failed to capture in my facebook posts was the diversity of styles of the artists. That inspired me to paint more. If Pleasanton Art League puts this competition on again next year, I will be there!

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