Plein Air Weather Disaster!

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Kisu wrote
on 25 May 2010 7:56 AM

My husband and I planned a 3 day trip to camp at a very scenic historic canyon site here in the southwest, in part to do some drawing and painting as well as hiking.  I thought we planned well, but we had to abandon the expedition after one day because the winds in the canyon were gale force and made it impossible to do anything, let alone any artwork such as watercolor.  The temperature also dropped unseasonably low.  It felt and sounded like we were camping on Mount Everest!  It was so frustrating to be in an incredibly beautiful location but unable to do what we planned.  We'll try again there in the future.  Am I a weather wimp or do other plein air artist here find that conditions can often play havoc with one's plans to do plein air work? 

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j.b2 wrote
on 25 May 2010 1:23 PM

Sorry to hear that. The Grand Canyon is a place I've always wanted to visit.

Here in Iowa it's been unseasonably hot & humid this last week. The bugs were firce last Saturday when I was out painting. But in my case I go out & plein air paint even when it's 0 F. outside. I have painted from the inside of the car to get out of the snow, wind & cold. I tend to go unless the wind is strong enough to topple the easel & or the rain is blowing sideways & I see my wife's sister & Toto on her bike blowing by me. (I thought they dropped a house on her???). Other than bungee cord your easel to a boulder the wind can really be difficult to deal with. Rain without wind is a lot easier to deal with..

What it comes down to is what conditions you can work in & your saftey...

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dania bree wrote
on 25 May 2010 3:50 PM

My husband and I had some plain air episodes in Teton National Park.  We were on a ledge in a campground and it was really hot in the shade (this was the middle of July 2009). As we painted the black flies were getting thicker and thicker - we weren't even by water.  We had sprayed ourselves with bug juice multiple times.  These flies were up our t-shirts, they were in our turp, in our piles of paint, in our eyes and nose.  They had no mercy.  Needless to say we wiped our panels off and packed up for the day extremely disappointed.  On another day we encountered the wind.  We thought we had everything secure.  All of a sudden my husband's easel went flying.  He turned around and their was oil paint all over him - red, yellow and blue.  What a mess he was, it took forever to clean him up.  We gave up that day to.  It's really frustrating especially when you travel a long way to not have it work out.

We plan to go to Colorado this year and we are trying to prepare ourselves the best we can - we'll see what mother nature has for us this time and see how flexible we can be.

 

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Kisu wrote
on 25 May 2010 4:57 PM

This was Chaco Canyon, not as extensive of course as the Grand Canyon, but dramatic all the same, and also has all the magnificent ancient pueblo structures against the cliffs.  The main problem was that the sand was blowing in my eyes and everywhere else, and the wind was so strong we couldn't even use the camp stove to make any of the food we brought.  Then the wind was so loud and violent all night long that sleeping was impossible.  It was literally blowing the tent flat!  And the cold was also a problem.   I think I'll plan on day trips when I can be sure the weather is manageable. 

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Kisu wrote
on 25 May 2010 5:05 PM

Ah, yes, bugs! I think they actually like the smell and taste of art chemicals!  Fortunately there aren't than many pesky flying bugs around here, just a few poisonous spiders and the occasional rattler!  I brought watercolors and a camp table to work on, and with the wind as it was there was no way I'd be able to handle watercolors since everything would be dry before I could even take one stroke.  When you go to Colorado remember that out west/southwest at night the temps drop significantly even in the middle of hottest summer, so you want to be able to wear something warm when the sun starts to go down.  There are days out here when I can tell what time it is just by feeling the temperature quickly fall a few degrees. 

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j.b2 wrote
on 25 May 2010 9:22 PM

Chaco Canyon, nice place! The SW is one of my favorite places. I've spent many a night in a tent out west with the wind whipping it so you couldn't sleep. And the blowing sand will sand blast the windows of your car over the course of a few years. You don't notice it until you replace the windshield, the difference is like night and day. 

Bug spray does no good with black flies. When I go way up north I take a bug hat. That is a hat with a screen that drops down over your face. Those flies will drive you crazy in short order. Having lived in Colorado I know how dry it is. Our neighbors thought we were crazy as we never used our a/c & we thought they were a bit crazy as they ran the a/c most of the year. To us it was hot, but not humid. To them anything above 30 -40% rh was unbearable. They would never make it here in Iowa. Which reminds me that they have never been here to visit, we always go there..

Have fun out west!!!

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Kisu wrote
on 26 May 2010 7:12 AM

I didn't realize the sand could do that to the windshield...if the stones from the roads don't crack it first.  We had moved here for only a week with our newly purchased truck when the windshield got hit by a flying stone and started a crack that wouldn't stop.  We got it replaced and within a month it had another rock chip in it.  We do have a couple of those bug hats that we used when camping back east.  They're goofy looking but they work.  I don't miss that midwestern humidity!  I grew up in northern Illinois, and then we lived in OH for a couple years before making the move to the SW, so I recall the oppressive humidity very well.  The locals here in the SW really fuss and squirm when there's a little touch of humidity in the air, and I just chuckle and say it really isn't humidity!

Well, I'll report back when I've had a successful run at plein air.

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j.b2 wrote
on 26 May 2010 7:52 AM

Rock chips & cracked windsheilds, the true sign of a native of Colorado! Every car & truck we owned had one when we lived out there.

Still loved it. Good weather, friends & all!!

I would love to get back out there but can't right now. Paint away!!!

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judyl40 wrote
on 26 May 2010 11:00 AM

I've tried plein aire in the past, & although I love being outside, I can't stand the bugs! Having come from Ontario, home of the blackflies in spring & mosquitoes in summer, I am a huge fan of late fall & winter. The more snow, the better. Wink

Now that I'm more comfortable with oils, I might try it out close to home (like on my deck) to see if it does better for me than watercolour or acrylics.

I suppose if you get enough gnats &/or blackflies stuck into the paint in just the right spot of the sky, it could pass for little birds. Stick out tongue

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DennisGee wrote
on 14 Jun 2010 6:31 PM

I'm reminded of a few years ago when I just got back into painting and starting plein air I was experimenting with water-based oils on a beautiful summer afternoon with clear blue skies. An hour into the painting the sky turned black and opened up with a flash downpour. Got some lovely streaks and drips with the water-based oils on the boards.Big Smile

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j.b2 wrote
on 29 Jun 2010 10:18 AM

No weather mishap this time but last night I was painting Plein Air along the hi-way. Painting away when I stepped back to check my work and I stepped back into thin air & went down a steep grade into the ditch.

I was upset that I had managed to get dirt & gravel on the brush. So I dusted my self off, climbed back up the ditch & re-sumed painting..

This morning my wrist was sore & stiff. There is a black & blue bruse on the palm of my hand. At least it wasn't into traffic!!!

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DennisGee wrote
on 29 Jun 2010 10:46 AM

Glad you're OK! Very fortunate you didn't go into the traffic cause you wouldn't be posting.  Was out painting yesterday outside with a group and the rumbles of thunder, the scent of oncoming rain and darkening skies were appearing. Got everything into the car as it began to come down. Wound up getting an inch of rain in about 45 minutes. 

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Margo5 wrote
on 29 Jun 2010 2:31 PM

Jb, how dreadful. Hope your hand heals soon.

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j.b2 wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 7:26 AM

An inch an hour, that's raining!

Thanks Margo5..

Still a little sore but not too bad today. Back to painting tonight!!!

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DennisGee wrote
on 30 Jun 2010 8:56 AM

The good thing was I was only a few miles from home. Might be another day before I can mow the lawn because the water is still standing. Oh well.

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