Wednesday, July 15, 2015

plein air in Homer, Alaska

At the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit in Alaska I have had a few days to stare and think about the landscape and a sunny morning to paint it.

I feel a shift in my ideas about plein air painting. I used to feel pressured to paint a frame-worthy piece every time I went out, but now I feel like I'm taking notes. I am catching the rhythm of the land, the high notes of color, the bass part of line and texture. It doesn't need to all come together now. It might at some later time, if/when I rework it or start fresh with the idea of this place in mind.

I watched many people, of all ages, catching salmon here. I watched a man fish (fishing and catching are two different experiences, they say), unsuccessfully, for four hours before he packed up his gear and hiked out of the lagoon. When his back was turned, a fish leaped in the water nearby. In fact, almost exactly where his line had been just minutes before.

I watched a grandfather and 6 year old grandson stand together on the rocky shore. First, the grandfather taught the little boy how to bait his hook, hold his pole, cast his line, and watch the bob for a bite. Next, I watched the boy go through all of the steps on his own, with grandfather nearby for assurance and answers to questions, which the little guy asked over his shoulder. Finally, I saw the two of them standing side by side with lines in the water making forever kinds of memories. When the grandfather caught a fish, the grandson reeled in his own line and stepped aside to be out of the way. Grandfather skillfully pulled in the fish, and grandson helped pull it out of the water, only dropping it once when it wriggled and wrested itself out of little hands.

Best of all, I felt perfectly safe while I painted, even if I felt like I was in the middle of a Rie Munoz painting!

Enjoy "The Fishin' Hole Song" and whistle a little, if you know the tune.

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