Plein air painting is an activity with roads that lead in many directions. A couple of months ago I was trying, without luck, to find a plein air group that was painting at Fox Run Park. Being a basic urbanite, I had to calm my nerves to avoid "lost-in-the-countryside PTSD," so I headed for the nearest town - Monument. Once calmly parked in a lovely shopping enclave and before I headed to the Coffee Cup Cafe where I had a wonderful Belgian waffle, I stopped into the Love Shop, a beautiful women's boutique where one "loves to shop." Still all a flutter from driving around in the country, I mentioned to the shop owner, Kathi Schuler, that I had been trying to find a group of artists who were plein air painting.
"Artists!" she exclaimed with wide eyes. "I need artists!"
That caught my attention. We proceeded to talk. She pointed out that she was planning her August 18th Third Thursday Art Walk and wanted some artists to be there along with a music duo.
"Well, I think I can help you," I replied, and we proceeded to talk about the details. "I know just who to call," I said, "and I will arrange this and send you the names of the artists and the kind of work they do."
She was thrilled, and said, "come and bring your paintings to sell. There will be refreshments and of course, the music."
With that done, I headed to the cafe and a great Belgian waffle breakfast. I texted Rita Scafidi, who was happily painting at Fox Run by the little pond. Her reply was, "I want a Belgian waffle." Since I knew I couldn't find where she was in the park, there was no waffle forthcoming, but she did also say yes to the plein air opportunity. Then, I contacted the other member of the A-Team, Sue Johnson, who also agreed. Serendipity paid off for all!
When the 18th of August rolled around, not only did we get the one day of that week that was sunny all day, but the evening was very mild, with a light breeze. We got set up in front of the store, which is in a plaza where the buildings look like modern versions of buildings from western frontier days. We formed a little semi-circle. The store owner came out to tell us that there was fresh berry-filled water and little munchie treats inside. The music got started, a man playing the guitar and a woman singer with a beautiful voice, who go by the name Massey Acoustic Duo. They proceeded to play a number of songs from a wide-range of famous ones that had our toes tapping as we painted.
So, the evening unfurled, the people came to shop and to talk to the artists. We all discovered how interested people were in the arts and heard their stories about how they had either done art for a while or had wanted to. Naturally we encouraged them to get involved with it. Sue gave quite a lot of instruction on how to use gouache for painting and showed her neatly devised plein air set up. Rita was working on a piece that had a beautiful sunset behind Cheyenne Moutntain and engaged people who were entering the shop, who then came back to see her progress. One lovely lady was excited to see me blending pastels with my fingers. "Oh I love getting my hands involved. I didn't know you could do that with pastel pencils!" she exclaimed. "Oh yes," I replied showing my multicolored fingertips, which made her giggle with delight.
The evening progressed nicely with never a dull moment and plenty of time to work with our plein air pieces. It drew to a close with the sun disappearing behind the mountains. The last of the music was being played as the artists packed up. Never minimize the possibilities of the artist life. Little treasures pop up when least expected and let us show that art is alive and important. And who knows, you might even be close to good Belgian waffles!
Thanks to Kathi Schuler and the Love Shop, where I can guarantee you will love to shop: 251 Front St., Monument, CO 80132. (719) 598-3348
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Marjorie Vernelle 2022