Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Painting Outdoors in January


I don't love being out in the cold, especially standing in one place for hours trying to paint with frozen fingers. But on January 20, Colorado Springs was enjoying a winter warm spell (one of the joys of living along Colorado's Front Range). It was in the sixties and sunny.

I packed up my gear and headed out, meeting Dan Schultz, one of my painting buddies at Monument Creek. We hiked up the creek, enjoying the day, and finally set up our gear and dug in. I zeroed in on the stream, milky green in the winter sun, flowing below a steep cut-bank that cast deep shadows toward the creek.

The shadows fairly leapt across the creek as I painted, trying to keep up. Feeling the urgency, I stripped down to my tee shirt and laid on paint as fast as I could.  It's a problem painters often confront, adjusting the painting to reflect the changing light conditions. It's called "chasing the light." If it gets out of hand, it's a good way to screw up a nice painting. At some point, you just have to make a stand and end the chase. Being fairly new to outdoor painting, I often fall prey and chase the light way too long.

We painted for about two hours. By then, the light was so changed, I had to call it a day. Times like this, it's not so much the result you get, but the act of painting itself that brings the reward. That's what it's all about.

"Along the Stream" oil, 8" x 6"

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