Today we are featuring four artists from our 3rd annual Plein Air in Clifton Springs event—Lois Luber, Victoria Brzustowicz, Penny Santy, and Stacy Mayou!
A total of 45 artists spent the morning and early afternoon of Saturday, September 16 painting in and around the village of Clifton Springs which in turn led to 61 total pieces in the Plein Air in Clifton Springs 2023 exhibition. Just a few days remain to preview and purchase works made during this year’s event. Be sure to visit our website to see all of the works and consider adding a piece to your collection!
“To create a ‘plein air’ painting composition, I need to connect with the subject from experiences in my lifetime that awaken sensory perceptions. Oil painting on a smooth ampersand board lets my brush flow with the feel of the day, the light, the landscape and purpose.
What drew me to paint this scene was the red door on the porch of this stately Victorian—it called to me, “Welcome.” The cottage garden flowers starting at the sidewalk and cascading carefree across the front of the house hinted at the end of summer.
The homeowner’s, mother and son stopped to view my painting about midway. The young boy quickly remarked he liked the garden flowers. She said it was her favorite view of their home.”
“I approach plein air painting as exploration, not as reporting. I have the most cursory plan at the outset, and then let the painting develop on its own terms and in its own way.
I have painted Flint Creek on or near the Ontario Pathways Trail about a half-dozen times. I am drawn to the tumble of trees and rocks and water that makes up a creek view. It is endlessly challenging to try to bring some order to the visual chaos, and end up with a cohesive painting that captures some of that tumultuous energy.
I had painted from the Wheat Road trailhead at least twice before, so even though I parked there, I knew that I didn’t want to do the same scene again. Apple Maps showed me that Flint Creek passed under the road just 600 feet from the parking area, so I walked down the road to explore. As soon as I looked out from the bridge, I knew it was my scene. An additional advantage was the guardrail, which offered protection from the traffic that barrels down Wheat Road, and provided a support for my sun umbrella and some of my equipment.
The view of the creek was rather shady, and my painting ended up quite dark and moody. I did have time for a second painting, for which I chose a very different location – one in full sun and with a high, expansive view of farmland. Although I used the same palette, the first painting was very low key and the second very high key. Again, each painting seems to follow its own trajectory, and I try not to impose my expectations on them.”
“I left the gallery after meeting some of the 40+ participating artists sharing breakfast snacks at 8:30 a.m. We were armed with a welcome bag supplied with a map, sketch book, and goodies such as water, pretzels, Chips Ahoy!, sunscreen and a mosquito repellent band. I set out to scour the area for something that caught my eye to paint. Since Clifton Springs is a small town set in the midst of farmland, I had the idea that I might be able to find a nice farmhouse set at a distance in the morning light. I’m not from the area, so I had no idea of what direction to go. After driving once around the large, country block and not seeing anything that struck me, I decided to go back to town.
I parked my car on Spring Street in some convenient parking spots. It was right next to what I now know is Sulphur Creek. When I looked across a parking lot behind Jeff Graff Law, I saw it! A white barn was tucked back behind the houses of Crane Street, and the light was showing off the weathered white paint peeking out from behind a wonderful large shade tree! Perfect. I headed over to set up my easel. The morning sun made the side of the white barn pop with the shadows of the tree creating some interesting shapes. That’s what I like to look for – interesting shapes to work with.
When starting a painting on site, it’s important to block in the dark and light values right away. That way, as the sun moves – and it moves quite quickly – you have those shape locations down that first drew you to this location. What was really fun about taking part in this plein air event was all the people from the area that walked around and found us like a treasure hunt! It was great to have little conversations with them and feel their enthusiasm. Thank you, people of Clifton Springs!”
“This year I painted ‘Elevation Shift’ along the Ontario Rail Trail. I have been to this location before and loved how the sun plays in the trees and on the water. I tried to capture the color, light, and sense of wonder this spot holds.
I always enjoy the challenge of painting outside. It is my goal to capture how the location makes me feel. It could be a grand view, buildings, or even weeds, if I can define my feelings about the location that is what I try to paint. I paint on toned pastel paper, in as few strokes as possible so I don’t overwork the painting. Pastels are a great medium for plein air painting as the color is immediate and there is no drying time involved.
This event is so much more than a plein air painting event. The artists that participate really get the opportunity to engage with each other and the staff at Main Street Arts, that is so important to me. Being able to see all the beautiful work at the end of the event also makes it a unique plein air event. I look forward to it every year!”