For many years I had dreamed of going back to Italy to spend dedicated time painting plein air. This June 2017 I attended an artist residency in a tiny village in Umbria where I was free from any other obligations and painted daily. This experience filled my tanks in so many ways. I can't wait to go back, sooner not later!Read More
Filtering by Tag: plein air
Happy anniversary to me and Ella Yang Studio! 15 years ago I made a deal with myself: try making art on a full-time basis for five years and see how it goes - by any of many possible criteria, e.g. how I improve/develop as an artist, can I get my art exhibited, will anyone buy my artwork, might I get any recognition from anyone in the "art world" (which was quite mysterious to me). I also was new to Brooklyn, not aware of or part of any artist community. I told myself that I could always go back to what I used to do by staying in touch with former colleagues. This gave me a (somewhat delusional) feeling that I had a back up plan. I put my trust in myself and "the Universe," and thanks to the whole-hearted support of my husband, started off on an incredible journey. What a ride it has been!
Pretty quickly I found a tiny, windowless studio in the northern part of Gowanus. Every nice day I went outside to paint, otherwise reveled in having an art studio for the first time in my life. . Rooftop views became my "landscapes" and, given that the Gowanus Canal was near my studio, it also became a natural subject.
While painting outside, I met other plain air artists. I also pursued my interest in figure drawing and painting at a couple of studios in Manhattan, where I met other Brooklyn-based artists.
That first year I participated in my very first Gowanus Open Studios and sold a painting. What a thrill! The next year I volunteered to work on the committee organizing the still somewhat nascent open studios event. I started to meet other artists in Gowanus. Over the next few years I joined various artist organizations in search of more "colleagues" and to contribute my business knowledge and skills. I had opportunities to show my work in juried group exhibitions, participated annually in Gowanus Open Studios which grew in size and public notice, and sold a few paintings pretty regularly.
In my 4th year the Universe spoke, or rather Cynthia M. Dantzic included me in her amazing book, "100 New York Painters" (available here). Right around the same time I was accepted into the Vermont Studio Center, a renowned artist residency. But just before I left, I partnered with a friend and we found a well-price, large studio space farther south in Gowanus, which we built out into three spaces - each with tall, north facing windows, perfect for painters. Turned out that the five year horizon was longer than I needed.
Since that incredibly fulfilling and fateful year, I've been on a path full of adventure, getting to know wonderful artists, fans and collectors; growing and developing my portfolio of paintings; finding entrepreneurial ways to show my artwork; trying to keep up with social media; and continuing to volunteer my time and business skills to the community of artists in Gowanus. I have had incredible studio mates who have shared with me their art education and moral support. And, I am forever grateful to my husband for being "the wind beneath my wings."
Here's to the next 15 years!
A plein air painter friend of mine recently told me about her encounter with a passer-by when she was outside painting in the West Village this past summer. This stranger pointed out to my friend, "You're a dinosaur!" In other words, this person believed that not since the late 19th century when the Impressionists launched their movement had there been any artists painting on-site. Either that, or this person was hallucinating and really believed she had sighted an ancient reptile! The fact is that even while all sorts of artistic trends have come and gone, there have always been artists interested in and pursuing their passion for painting what they see on-site, out-of-doors, and I am one to continue on that path. Sure, people are often surprised to see me with my easel in a particularly grimy neighborhood (as by the Gowanus Canal has been for years!) or even on a neighborhood sidewalk - "Are you painting that bodega, miss?!" "Are housing projects your specialty?"
We paint from life outside for various reasons. For me, it's the combination of my love of being outdoors and the challenge of capturing the colors and shapes I see before me in a pleasing and interesting composition. I do what I love, especially finding beauty in small, everyday details. And the process is meditative; I am rarely as calm yet energized as when I paint en plein air. Am I carrying on a tradition? Am I stuck in the past? Does it make a difference?
In the end, I have my own voice and make my own mark(s). Let the sun shine!
Fortunately I've been able to escape the city a few times this summer. Here are two paintings from a trio I painted on-site by a wonderful stream in the Catskills. The third is on my easel getting some touch-ups.
Once the third one is finished I'll add them to my website.