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Pleins, Plans and Automobiles

A Hay Oddity Watercolor, 5x7
A Hay Oddity
Watercolor, 5×7

So I learned a powerful lesson on Saturday.

The last outdoor art fair anyone should do in Vermont is Columbus Day Weekend.  And that’s only if you have a windproof, waterproof, and – you got it – SNOW proof tent to cower in when the weather turns south, or in this case north.

It was a good lesson and had me rethinking a new plan to paint au naturale in the mornings. Or maybe it was en plein air.  It was the one that won’t get you arrested, anyway.

A lucrative but frigid festival on Saturday turned my Sunday into a day planning a winterized plein-auto studio, complete with a table for my steering wheel and a setup for brushes and water in my cupholder (that’s totally normal, right)?

Monday was glorious, of course, but today a soggy bone-chilling morning greeted us.

I headed to Manchester after dropping the kids at school, looking for the perfect vista.

Manchester, VT is a bit of an oddity.  It’s a ‘gold town’, attracting skiers and designer outlet  shoppers, with a few middle class neighborhoods still holding their own.  You can see the majestic Equinox mountain, but you have to look over the inns and malls.  There are a few cows living next to the water treatment facility, and if you get further into sub-suburban Manchester – as I did this morning – you can see a few rolled bales of hay in the front yards of some of the well-kept and growing housing developments like the one I stopped to paint this morning.

I put the iPod on shuffle and the heated seats on high.  Every so often I had to turn on the wipers to see my subject.  An older gentleman walked by, giving me the hairy eyeball until he saw a brush in my hand and grinned at me. It’s an odd setup for painting, and it made this picture of a lonely hay bale at the edge of an otherwise conventional house development seem all the more appropriate. Keeping my grinning stranger in the painting walking down the road seemed appropriate too.