“Afternoon in the Heights”

“Afternoon in the Heights” 11″x 14″ oil on panel

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a plein-air event where the artists were asked to record some aspect of the historic neighborhood of Cadwallader Heights in Trenton, New Jersey.  The artists were to submit two plein air paintings that would then become part of a silent auction in December.

The painting here represents one of the two plein-air landscapes that I was able to complete.  This was done on the day of their annual house tour and although it was not one of the houses on the tour it captivated my attention with it’s unique architecture.  What was interesting about the neighborhood was the ecclectic mix of homes.  Each residence had a unique style and personality which I liked and seems atypical of the neighborhoods built today. 

This was a new event for me and I enjoyed interacting with the numerous visitors on the tour.  The morning was moving along without much to do, when I noticed a large orange food truck turn the corner and start up the avenue I was on.  Little did I know that the truck would park in the driveway you see in the foreground of my painting blocking my entire view.  There was little I could do as one of the neighboring residents had arranged for this and the truck couldn’t park on the road.  At first I thought – Ok, I have enough roughed in I can finish in my studio. It’s time to go.  As I stood there in a bit of frustration, I realized that wasn’t what I really wanted to do.  I did say something to the person who arranged for the truck as they had seen me set up to paint there at least an hour before.  Considering my options… I decided to stay and gather more color notes and chat with the folks who continued to pass by.  There were lighthearted chuckles as some asked me if I was going to include the truck in my painting.  Actually that might have been pretty funny.  In the end, I was glad to have stayed and I was able to gather the information I needed to complete the painting with some modest touches back in my studio.

Overall,  I think the truck just made for a fun story and experience, reminding me that there are always unexpected events when it comes to painting outdoors.  That is part of what makes plein-air fun for me.


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