Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The plein air adventures of Ruby Redfern

The following is an excerpt from Ruby Redfern's personal diary July 2019

Day 1 

I breathe in the warm ocean air. Jetlag, delayed flights and luke-warm coffee are my nemesis today. I rub my eyes and setup my easel. The horn goes off at 9AM sharp and so, it begins. I'm at the Quickdraw of an out of town plein air event. It's not my first event but I would hardly call myself a veteran, more like an amateur throwing darts in the dark.

The air crackles with nervous energy. The first painting spills out of my brushes faster than a Ferrari.  It's not a terrible start but I could have slowed down and done better. My painting sells. I'm thrilled. 

Day 2 

I paint all day. In the evening, I drive to the marina. There are boats, restaurants, people, possibilities everywhere. The clouds are a glorious mix of storm and cotton. Evening turns over quickly and sunset sweeps in.  I am completely paralyzed by awe. Is it possible the planet has started spinning faster? I am stuck in a slow-motion video while the world around me flashes away in a time-lapse. By the time I tear my eyes away from the sky, it is engulfed in darkness. So, I paint a nocturne. 

Day 3 

I'm determined to paint the sunset today. I am on time, in a nice park and my easel is setup. The sunset screams in, like a glitterati of showgirls in Vegas, fireworks and all. I revel in its audacity. But, I've just been handed a Bob Ross and asked to create a Mona Lisa. 

Day 5

I walk into the exhibition with heavy eyes. After days of painting, exhaustion has crept into muscles I didn't even know existed. I don't win an award. I know I don't deserve an award. Still, a wave of disappointed creeps in. I agree with most of the judge's decisions but not all. Sour grapes be damned. Surely, I could have been one of those undeserving candidates. I laugh at the thought and shrug away my disdain.

We have to man (or woman) our walls. I haven't sold anything since the first day. I muster up all my courage and wear my best smile. A polite couple stops by. I attempt words but my mind is emptier than a blank canvas. How could I not even remember what the weather is like. They ease me out of my misery by moving on.

I begrudging gawk at my fellow-artists as they glide around with ease, charming one client after another. Paintings are flying off the wall. It feels like everybody else is on 5G while I'm sputtering like a dial-up modem. I think it's better to let my paintings sell themselves and I shrivel up into the corner. Instagram is my best friend. What would wallflowers like me do without social media?

By some miracle, another painting of mine sells before the evening ends. I'm relieved. It's nothing like the veterans who have sold paintings in double digits but I know there are artists who have sold none as well. 

Day 6 

I'm at the airport checkin counter line. Day 4 still haunts me. I spent most of it driving around trying to decide where to paint. As I pull out my credit card to pay for the extra bag, I tell myself "Next time Rubes, its gonna be all rainbows, butterflies and unicorns".

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