In a recent article I wrote about the difficulties and challenges of plein air painting. Read it here: https://johnfrenchoilpaintings.com/2018/05/15/trials-and-triumphs-of-painting-en-plein-air/ ) I want to share a story of tragedy, but with a happy ending.
Sometime in 2001, I was painting on the shore of Lake Superior. I hauled my paints and homemade easel through the woods, over some rocks, and onto a beach.
The sun was out, the wind was calm, the water gently rose and fell. I was on the sand painting a distant island known as Little Presque Isle, with some rocks in the foreground and the gentle waves lapping at the shore.
Being new to plein air, the going was slow, but a decent painting was coming out of it. After a few hours, I finally decided I was done and started cleaning up.
Suddenly, a gust of wind came out of nowhere. It was the only damned gust of wind I’d felt all day. It blew my easel over. The painting went into the sand. The small container of mineral spirits went all over the painting. The paint ran across the canvas.
Cursing, I picked everything up. I brushed the sand off, and tried to put the running streaks of color back where they belonged.
Nearly in tears, I carried everything back to my car and drove home. Once in my studio, I messed with it some more. Disgusted, I quit and left it alone.
I looked at it again the next day, when I was in a better mood, and what do you know? I liked the painting!
Then I sold it!
I tracked down the buyer and asked if he still had it. He did, and sent me the photo below.
There’s glass on it, so there’s a glare, but you can see how decent it turned out. You’d never know that it was a runny, sandy mess at one time.