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Updated 6/5/06

The Aspens and The Paint-L Crowd!

In October of 2005, the members of a very special online group of artists met in the White Mountains of Arizona for a week of painting on location and cameraderie. Hosted by Gwen Pentecost, the president of Women Artists of the West and gallery owner in Pinetop-Lakeside, about 15 of us met at Hawley Lake.

Here we are, around the table the first night! Of course there's a laptop in the middle! Suzanne is on the right, Dave's on the left, do you recognize anyone else? Robin's in the middle back, and we're all drinking wine before dinner. What a night!!!
But earlier we had to meet up ouside the cabin! In the red shirt and cap on the right is Kyle, Collette's hubby, (Elin's friends), and she's next to him in the brown shirt. They mountain bike, and Collette paints. Kaye and her hubby are on the far left. Robin hasn't arrived yet. Dave and Gwen are in the middle, and Margot and Helen are there, too.
The first view of the cabin, late in the day, party cloudy. Note the cow. No one wanted to bunk with the cow. Dave Becker made the "Paint-l Place" sign. Last I saw of him before dinner, he was leaping over bushes following Gwen as she headed out along the shoreline to go fishin'.
Dave took this image of Gwen doing some evening fishing on "our" lake. Great beginning to what appears to be an outstanding week ahead.
Tomorrow, looks like we'll be painting around the lake, because not all of us have the permits we need to be around here during hunting season! Lots of conversation going on right now. And the light is gorgeous! MORE to come!
Day Two, Tuesday, is yet to come, gotta get some pictures from the rest of the gang. I'm sending this from Gwen and Lloyd's front porch, and it is so nice to get the Internet. hardly any of our cell phones work, and everyone is suffering Internet withdrawal. I painted three pieces this day (so far) and they are viewable here.

Wednesday, October 5

Cabin 64... home to 10 of the people. Gwen, Lloyd and Suzanne are in a cabin up and behind this one, and Chris Blom and I are in the campground in our RVs. Note the lake out the back door!

Not too shabby for a campground, no? That's my camper, and Chris is parked nearby. But we moved the next night. Could it be better? Yup.
Yes, this is our lake in the early morning hours. Amazing view from the front of the cabin, and just about everywhere else today (Wednesday). The fall mists arrived! However.....
...this is what it looks like during the day! (Kyle took this picture). Now, all the artists are going to write to you below:

Dave: Wait until you see the 500 photos that everyone took, and that was from just the first day. Two days of painting and Elin and I probably have a total of 15 paintings, then add the rest of us and we are starting to fill all the walls of the cabin. Off to dinner, ......I'm Back and boy was that a great meal, I've never eaten so well, man I'm never going home, this is heaven. Oh, they are calling me outside to see the Milky Way and it wasn't the candy bar, but this wonderful soft light amongst the stars. Boy you learn and see something new every day.

Margot: What is Elin doing nagging me to write now? Dang it, it's cocktail hour! What is this woman thinking of? Well, we're about to leave here (with the wine) to walk up the hill to Gwen & Suzanne's cabin for a dinner of Gwen's roast pork.

Yum! We rose to 9000 feet today to paint the turning aspens--brilliant yellows and golds, and rich oranges just arriving. We found a stand above some stately rocks with a meadow and pines and distant mountains beyond.

YES, we wish you were here!

Gwen: This was the best day! Happy Paint-Lers, happy Apache Fish & Game wardens, happy everything. We're bushed!!! And now I'm hoping they eat and drink us out of house and home...while we watch the stars and hear the elk bugle...

Suzanne: I loved painting the colors and shapes of this area. It's so refreshingly different from California. An excuse to paint all that yellow, and golden colors. It's magnificant here. Wish you all could have joined us. This afternoon, the hunters were out, and we heard elk bugling. Gwen leant me a bright blue warm fuzzy so I didn't look like an elk, though I hope that's not one of the words I'm usually called.

Chris: I have never painted plein air or alla prima either, so this has been a real adventure for me! I came with the idea of picking up ideas on how to paint better and faster, and so far it is so good! I did my first plein air this morning pre-dawn. It was incredibly stressful because by the time I had a color mixed, the color was completely changed. I had to just slap paint on as fast as I could and hope that the color was coming out right. Well it didn't, my hills were too pink, but I was pretty impressed that I did manage to get a little painting completed in less than an hour. When the rest of the group went up to the higher altitude chasing aspens, I stayed and painted the lake. I am absolutely delighted that I managed to complete an 18x24 painting in 4 hours. Before, it would have taken me 2 months. Perfect it ain't, but like the old saw about the dog, the remarkable thing is not how well I did it, but that I was able to do it at all.

Elin has been extremely helpful in allowing us to watch over her shoulder and explaining what she is doing while she is doing it. I picked up a number of excellent tips from her, that I was able to put into practice -- but it will take a long time and a lot of practice before I can come close to her facility of knowing which colors will blend to match what we see.

Nancy: It is so wonderful to be amoungst so many gracious and friendly folks. This has been such an adventure, meeting up once again with Robin and Kaye who I met in New York and meeting new folks as well. The experience I had in NYC has been repeated once again - that Paint-L'ers are the best. I am awed by the talent surrounding me. I was able to watch Elin paint away, a masterpiece in an hour or two. Then watch Dave paint his watercolors, masterful. And the list goes on and on.

Robin, Helen and I went out on a photo shoot adventure, traveling through "alpine" meadows stopping every few moments to shoot another faboulous photo of the light streaming through the aspens or lighting up a stream. Purely paradise.

Kaye: Okay you guys. You snooze you lose on this Paint-L trip thing. We are having a fantastic time, eating yummy food. Oh yeah, and we are painting up a storm. Think I'm the only one doing acrylic en plein air and learning a lot by trial and error.

Today went so much better than my first day. Even dh who does not paint is having a great time.

It is amazing to be living so near wild animals in their natural environment. One day dh saw a deer followed closely behind by two wolves! Hope she got away. And the chipmunks are adorable.

You just have to make plans right now to come to the next one!

Robin: I KNEW this would be fun! So glad I decided to join the party. This is a remote location in an area of Arizona I never knew existed. What better place to put faces to screen names! This is a competitive bunch, and we have covered the fireplace mantle with luscious paintings. Today was my first plein air experience and I have to say it wore me out. I was out in the strong sun with no sunscreen, no hat, no easel, etc. Thank goodness Gwen lathered me up with sunscreen and Dave lent me his easel AND his oils. That was new for me, too, and I have a small little painting of mud to show for it! Wait til you see the photos of the paintings. Are ya jealous yet??

Elin: Well, I'll add that Monday we had chicken lasagne, Tuesday Chris cooked Coque au Vin, and tonight Gwen presented us with roast pork. We eat more, the altitude takes a lot of energy. We all eat dinner together, and then when the last bottle of wine is opened and quaffed, Chris and I toddle back to our respective RVs.

What to add after all the above? The cameraderie. The remoteness. Can you imagine us'n Paint-lers without instant Internet access and no cell phones? Serious withdrawal! I headed into town to get my oil changed (a requirement on a diesel at altitude) and got online at Gwen's. Amazing time together. Amazing to talk to people you've emailed for years and have immediate "face time" to respond to what is said. Amazing to touch hands with people you have known for years, but never in person.

Did I mention the location? Nine miles in off the main road, which is 12 miles from ANY sign of civilization, then the lake where the road ends. The aspens are turning/have turned at higher elevations, and we are painting our souls onto canvas and paper. Better than any workshop I have ever attended, and better paintings are coming off my brushes. Today I hit the wall, after the vertical aspen piece done at over 9,000 feet. Thin air, an eagle exploding out of the tree under which I was painting... amazing. Tomorrow, back to painting the mists, and hopefully an evening light painting worthy of this beautiful place.