I went on vacation knowing that I wanted to try some plein air hooking while I was there. Since I had my frame with me anyway to work on some pieces for my upcoming exhibit, and I was surrounded by such wonderful scenery, it seemed like the perfect time.
In preparation I tried to pack as many bits and pieces of different colours that I could. The struggle with plein air hooking is that you have to use only what you have on hand so you want to have as much on hand as possible. This was my first lesson learned- I hadn’t packed nearly enough colour variations and many of the colours that I did bring I didn’t bring enough of. But, I was still determined to make it work.
For this trip we had purchased a beach sunshade because we figured that between beach vacations and our many camping trips it would get a lot of use. Best. Investment. Ever. Not only did it provide a nice shady location for me but it also blocked the wind. Iles-de-la-Madeleine is nothing if not windy.
Then I got down to work. I selected a seashell that my daughter had collected from the beach as my first subject. I realized later that I didn’t take an actual photo of the seashell, but you can glimpse it in the first photo. I was attracted to it because of its interesting combination of greys and orangey, peachy hues. I thought it looked unusual and I liked the swirly pattern.
My second lesson learned is that in my haste to get down to work I wasn’t meticulous in drawing my border lines and so they are not perfectly even and straight. Not fatal but definitely noticeable, at least to me. I reflected later in the project that it might actually have been interesting to avoid doing a square and making the piece more rounded to reflect the shape of the shell. Art does not always have to fit into a box. I’ll pursue this angle next time.
Lesson learned number three is that if you choose to hook on a beach, your piece will get sandy. I was amazed when I shook it out at the end how much sand came out of it. Instead of stressing about it I choose to believe that that adds to the authenticity of the piece and the “naturalness” of plein air hooking.
Lesson learned number four is that with young kids, you won’t get nearly as much time to work on your piece as you may think you will. In that way, choosing an inanimate object like a shell was perfect. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop to reapply sunscreen to children or fix them a snack. With a shell, I didn’t have to worry about my subject wandering away or shadows changing throughout the day.
What I didn’t get finished at the beach I worked on in the days that followed on the deck outside our cottage. I was determined to do all of the work outdoors!
And here is the finished piece. Is it perfect? No. Did I have all of the colours I needed? No. But I do think it turned out ok. AND, I discovered that I really enjoyed the plein air approach! There was something really special about working on a piece that was based on the ocean while sitting steps away from it, on a beach, hearing the waves crashing around me.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did a second landscape plein air piece while on the trip. I’ll share that one soon. I would encourage everyone to try plein air hooking at least once!