|Study on paper for “Man in Cafe”, 6.5"x5.5" © 2013 Rebecca Lambing|
Paint Burlingame is an annual event that brings out artists from along the peninsula to paint scenes around the city of Burlingame “en plein air” (a french expression for “in the open air”). It takes place on a single day, so artists create their pieces from start to finish within a matter of hours. In the late afternoon there is a public reception where the artists mingle and the artworks are hung for a silent auction, already framed and beautifully displayed. Proceeds benefit the Burlingame Historical Society.
I've never painted in this fashion but woke up with a wild urge to participate the day before the event this year. What would inspire me to put myself out there in a situation where I've never painted in public, never painted a large scene from life, and never on such a limited time frame... and yet also commit to hanging the result for all to see? Who knows, but it was fun just the same.
I got set up along Broadway to paint the scene in front of Earthbeam, a health food store that's been a part of Burlingame since the early 1970s. With the help of Pandora streaming on my phone I was quickly oblivious to all that was going on around me and my time was over before I knew it. It was great fun to pause occasionally to talk with some kind and friendly people. And the end result? The piece received many compliments and I was satisfied with what I had created given my inexperience and the constraints. Rather than posting it I've posted a quick study I had previously done for a larger painting. This is the effect I was going for.
So will I participate again next year? If I do, I know to spend time preparing in advance, getting used to the portable easel, dealing with the acrylics drying when the wind picks up, doing a study or two of what I choose to paint ahead of time, etc. Despite the beautiful weather I didn't immediately fall in love with painting en plein air. For now I plan to get back on track and continue focusing on the figurative work I've been doing most recently. But know that if you see me painting outdoors that my favorite part is getting to quickly chat with passersby so do stop and say hello!