Today? Outside? This is what you would see at my home, in the back of the old brownstone farm house, above. And WELCOME!!!!! My name is Vivi and I am very pleased to show you around! To the right there sits a rather large, sturdy table made from heavy dark wooden banisters I found and equipped with a top which has become quite battered and stained with various paints, glazes and soils that were worked with during all kinds of weather and candle wax from late evenings spent gazing upwards at the plethora of stars in Barren's Valley. My home is my studio.....and welcome to my little tour!
When people hear the expression "Plein Air" they most likely conjure an internal image of a painter painting outside with a minimal color palette and perhaps a pochade box or french easel. We may have come to expect a classic sunset or glimpses of light hitting a field or river bed and that painting may be framed in a classic golden frame. (I have PLENTY of these and have done hundreds in my life already!) In reality, this is a french term which means "in the open air", so I beg to have you consider stretching your imaginations just a bit.....just even once.....with me.....ok? I think you might enjoy the ........S>>>T>>>R>>>E>>T>>C>>>H>>>!!!!!!!!! ahh..... what a relief!
My dear mother had this terrible habit of doing whatever she pleased, whenever she pleased. If that meant gardening after putting us to bed at 7 pm...IN THE SUMMER....she did. If that meant painting "a plein air" after putting us to bed at 7 pm...IN THE SUMMER......she did. If that meant swimming nude in the pool after putting us to bed at 7 pm....IN THE SUMMER....she did. Well....considering I did NOT fall asleep like my sister....I spent a great deal of time peeking under the sheer curtains looking out the window at exactly what she was doing. AND I WANTED TO.....ALSO.....DO.......what she did! So she finally let me.....but not exactly. While she gardened I wanted to sculpt, thus the carved rock faces above (circa 1960). While she painted outside, so did I. And while she swam.....well I do not remember communal nude swimming....but it certainly made me want to do just that! Especially on those hot summer nights when it was STILL light outside when she put us to bed. Oh yes, I forgot to mention. It makes me chuckle. She finally caught me looking out the window and let me stay up, in my bed ONLY if I would look at art books.......so I fell in love with all the art....all around me...... bliss....... :-)
Papa also drew. Very well, I would say, for a classical pianist. In fact, he also encouraged me (cough cough - tolerated me) when I insisted to paint by his side. Above is Papa's drawing of a home next to the Swedish Gate in Riga, Latvia.......below is....well....is mine. Not bad for a 4 year old. Somehow I ended up with many more windows.....hmmmmmm was NEVER good at math!
My Mother's paintings are fantasies of outdoor delights. I believe she was a very happy artist. The Rudbekia painting above sits behind some of my pottery in my farmhome dining room. My parents were my most important inspiration and I was steeped in art, classical music, theatre and opera from the time I could sit in my crib and listen..... now back to me.....in this time!
Coming in my back door an old tack rack I found....(yes I am an antique/yard sale/trash picker and proud of it!) dons my San Diego Hat Co. paper and poly hat that I wear painting and gardening and pretty much doing whatever I do in the sun. MUST protect from the sun if you seriously want to paint outside. They also have umbrellas you can attach to your easels...... Oh. the mirror. What IS it? Acorns silly...lol bunches I found when I was painting near an oak tree...they were so cute I decided to make a ceramic mirror frame.....I also LOVE to make things from natural "objets" I find "en plein air". Ug, I spoke French and Latvian before I spoke English. Oh yes...my art and studios! Let's go!
I spend a GREAT deal of time gardening so that I can sit outside and draw and paint in any season. I suppose I am more like my Mamma than I thought I was........except she never drove! Imagine that! The flowers above I drew from my garden.........sometimes I like to draw with a permanent marker and then paint in the colors and lights and shades..........I am such a coloring child!
This one should be fun! Tomatoes! Grown in my garden, "certainement"! Love, Love LOVE to paint veggies....in oil, watercolor, pastels with water, fingerpaints.......:-))) I also make sauce which I can-can. Hahahaha....get it. ;-)
"Atelier": - studio. My ceramic studio....this green is too light....better? phew. I hope you can click and see this panoramic shot I took today of my clay "plays" (Place... :-) I do believe that I am bringing more to the idea of painting than just on a canvas. I paint on anything I want to.....and if it works and if I like it great.....and if someone else likes it.....great....and if someone buys it.....well.....money is good but I always miss my work. Don't you?
These are some of the mugs I made for "Fleurir" a chocolate shop in Georgetown. I actually painted them outside while I was gazing at my blooming irises and poppies! To me, as I am thinking you are realizing, plein air is more than what meets the average eye. I treat much of my pottery, my Majolica pieces, as painting grounds for designs and inspirations from nature. And I actually love to work outside....so you tell me....plein air painting? or not.....;-0!
Some where.....ug....somewhere.....along the way I have heard tell that people consider a painting being painted "en plein air" as having been painted at least 80% outside....so then where do you go? I go up stairs into my attic studio where I have my easels and work lights and I can work without sunlight finishing OR starting a painting that will be worked on outside. Often I sketch on a canvas from smaller drawings I have done on location and will return with a very large canvas to paint lighting from a certain time of day.....once again....I like to change it up. pssssst....my attic was haunted, but he is much nicer now....... he was only rattling a wash basin and pitcher yesterday......
This is "Shear Joy" A painting I began en plein air in Camp Hill for the Plein Air Festival this year.....as you can see it started raining furiously, so I finished the painting in my attic studio.....and yes I painted on the frame......once again.....Je suis une dissidente.......
Finally, at the end of the day I like to float up to my upstairs porch where I will often paint the very entertaining Barren's Valley sunsets...or not....sometimes I just like to sit and look at them. That's Buddy, my Golden, laying on the floor......he is SUCH a good pal!
Finally, I would like to share my most recent piece, done in pastel and water. This is "At Last I Will Be Free", painted entirely en plein air. I was beginning a rather realistic rendering of dogwood blossoms when a bluebird flew within inches of my face. I guess I am just not MEANT to go back to realism......as I now realize it is much more me to be that bird.....spontaneous and colorful...... BTW the title is from Paul Mc Cartney's song..."Bluebird".
I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my studios and to see where I primarily work. If I posted photos of places I have painted, on: canvas, boards, paper, pottery, slabs of cement, bridges ;-) I could show you probably thousands of photos......another day. Oh yes. Stats. I am a graduate of The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, Pa. and attended The Boston University School for Fine Arts. I graduated with dual B>S> degrees in Art and Elementary Education from Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass. I studied painting and drawing at the National Academy of Design in New York City and studied ceramics at Marywood College and studied and taught ceramics at Keystone University, both in north eastern Pennsylvania. I have taught art K-12 in many private and public schools and have tutored and instructed individuals for many years. I was married for 32 years and I raised three lovely children. I live alone, at my Barren's Vally Farm. Now it's all my turn. http://vivian-sterste.blogspot.com/