Die Hard Landscape Painters

by Lisa 

So, we were being good little plein aire painters last Saturday, and there we were in the heat and the flies and the dust of the dessert-like conditions, painting away, and waiting for the glory of the plein air experience to hit us any minute. We were scattered about Peter Strauss Ranch with myself located near a dried up creek bed with great potential for rattlesnakes everywhere. Bill was situated not far from me.  He had donned his best safari attire with long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and wide-brimmed hat, and I was in my usual grunge shorts, sneakers, and T-shirt. At first I thought he was a tad overdressed, but I could certainly see his point after trekking through the brush with the sun beating down on all exposed skin. 

There I was trying to act like the hardened plein-air-do-or-die painter, and quietly cursing every fly, when suddenly I heard the sound of something large walking through the forested area on the other side of the creek bed maybe thirty yards from me. The brush is so dry that it was quite loud. I called out “HELLO” since it sounded like a human taking steps. No answer, leading me to conclude that bears don’t speak. I began backing up in Bill’s direction, with visions of something suddenly barreling forth from the brush. Uh… Bill????? Bill??? I turned around and Bill was already booking toward the car. Okay, not really, but it would be funny in an upcoming episode of Lisa and Bill try Plein Air Painting. We stood there for a few minutes discussing what to do. Bill thought it might be a covey of quail. MY ASS it was a covey of freakin’ quail. I thought,  the sun and all his clothes might be causing delusions. Then he actually did a Steve Erwin (just so I would write this I’m sure). He was very brave and went into the creek bed to investigate. I watched through my fingers thinking the worst way to die would be to get eaten by an animal, and wondering who would be  my next blogging partner. I searched around for a weapon, just in case, and found an amazing spear sitting right beside me. It was a rusted piece of metal bracket about five feet long that actually came to a point on one end. It’s very presence seemed cryptic and suddenly every horror flick I’d ever seen began flashing through my head. I admit. I’m a chicken shit and me and the wilderness, and plein air painting included, just may not agree. The sound of the animal finally trailed off (or the mountain lion simply stood still and watched his prey). I finished a little painting in record time. You see it here.  


Then we moved on to the creek (that had actual water in it) at Malibu Creek State Park. There we had to fight our way through crowds, and we were more in danger of getting hurt by a flying watermelon rind. We saw the most beautiful scene of a baptism in the creek. I took lots of pictures. The light in a creek or riverbed is spectacular for some reason. Though that was very inspiring, it was not practical to paint, and I settled for this log depicted below in my little 8×10 painting. I call it “Log in the Bog”. The painting above is called “Get Me the Hell Out of Here”. 


Bill tells me I need to get better at this plein air stuff, and learn to like it better. I don’t know. I think I’ll stick to pretty gardens with guards, gardeners, and video cameras everywhere.

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