Can you imagine 700 plein air artists gathered in one place for five days to teach, learn, have fun and collaborate? This past April I experienced such an event in beautiful Monterey, California. I chose to attend this convention with some of the masters of plein air painting because I felt an urgent need to paint outside of my studio walls to look, really see, and feel the exquisite beauty of nature.
The last few years I have been creating work reflecting my deep concern over the destruction we humans have done to our planet. The research I have done, and the paintings I have created about my version of climate destruction, was depressing me. For a change of pace I thought it would be good to learn how to work out of doors.
During those five very busy days, we all went on site and set up our easels at the beaches in Carmel and Asilomar and put brush to canvas on the rugged coast of Point Lobos and the wharf in Monterey. Part of the exercise was like “Outward Bound” since in some cases the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and the sand was impaling the canvases! Nevertheless, I loved the experience!
Since that week in April, I have been fortunate enough to paint outdoors in the SF Bay Area; the big island of Hawaii; Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico; and also in the New York Adirondacks. While the practicality of painting outside definitely is a challenge, it has given me a chance to quietly sense and profoundly appreciate our beautiful planet. It is so clear to me that right now we do need to search for ways to save it from the damages of climate change“These are our times and our responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes. In order to do this we must recognize the enemy—the one within us. We must begin with ourselves. We must live in harmony with the Natural World and recognize that excessive exploitation can only lead to our own destruction. We cannot trade the welfare of our future generations for profit now”. These comments come from the an address to the United Nations by Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah, high chief among the Six National Iroquois Confederacy and revered spiritual leader.