The Total Art Experience by M Theresa Brown

The dew on the grass was wet, the morning almost chilly, but Saturday, May 7 was our scheduled “Paint in the Garden” START ( class and we had a dozen people coming in at 10:00 am to learn or re-experience painting “Plein air” or from life outside at our studio.
Right on cue, the sun peeped over the trees and scattered light across the garden flowers and roses.  Students ranging from 12 to 72  gathered in the studio and we started a day that for most, was a first! They were all painting scenes, not from photographs, but from the actual subjects themselves!

My artist husband, Stephen Filarsky,( specializes in this form of painting. He has quite a following among his collectors as he is an avid “plein air” painter and thinks nothing of stopping, flipping out his Julien easel and whisking off an oil  painting or two on our travels.  So we were sharing our tips and techniques on that beautiful day to encourage the participants to discover the joy of the art zone. That place where you are lost for a short while in creating art. Your art. And perhaps in doing so, changing your life forever.

It takes a little organization to pull off oil palettes, brushes, solvent, chairs, tables, easels and individual locations for a dozen people. Our thanks to  START director, Christina Harles for participating and loaning some much needed easels for the outdoor class!

So what happened at this painting party and why were they there?  Several of the participants were there because they were painting an oil painting for their mothers for Mothers Day! Another brought her mother after purchasing a gift certificate. The two youngest were there with participating parents who were encouraging their offspring to enjoy art.  Several were experienced artists who needed the discipline of a workshop to “make” them get out and paint!

Steve first demonstrated a quick method for getting the basic shapes and colors and after watching a few minutes, the particpants returned to their selected areas and started. That was the hardest part for most. Starting! Our 10:00-noon class ended with a lunch break and a sharing of Steve’s favorite painting beverage for loosening up adult painters-Mimosas.  Those staying for the second half of the day brought their lunches. All were relaxed, enjoying the day, the moment, the scenery and the experience! Our 1:00-3:00  class began when everyone moved to new locations and started again. We shared not just the scenery but the dogs, the goats,  the ponies and the old cat!

Painting outside while looking at a subject is a unique way for all artists to re-examine just what a rose or a trellis or the colors in their selected vignettes REALLY look like! None who do this will ever see their subjects again in the same light. For a few, their paintings at this class were their very first paintings and a whole new world has been opened to them! 
Some are coming back the next Saturday to do it all over again in watercolor.
All  experienced that Total Art Experience. That relaxed, peaceful feeling that only comes from the complete immersion, for whatever length of time, in the enjoyable process of creating of art!

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