Monday, August 03, 2009

"Common Mullen" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 30x15" -- Margie Guyot

Mullen is a favorite wildflower of mine. The first time I ever noticed how beautiful it is was when I was out in Boulder, Colorado, about 12 years ago. They practice natural landscaping out there and somebody had a whole grove of this stuff in their front yard. It was glorious! Back in the suburb of Detroit (where I lived at the time), if I'd tried growing a grove of this in my front yard, the city would come, cut it down & send me a bill.

Now I've got hundreds of these plants in my yard. I've used the leaves for tea to help relieve congestion. From what I've read, mullen was introducted to America hundreds of years ago from Eurasia. Some people call it "Forester's TP". But I can tell you from personal experience, those fuzzy leaves leave you itching!

This is the biggest size I've ever attempted doing en plein air. I wanted to do something long and narrow, and the 30x15" canvas was the only thing I had on hand. But I had nothing else planned for the afternoon, so I just decided to take my time and see if I could paint this. At times early on I wondered if I could make it work. Oh -- and I had to duct-tape this onto my Soltek easel.

This was also my first use of the new BestBrella I'd bought. The instructions say to hand-tighten the screws, but I had to use pliers. And re-tighten things occasionally, as it was quite windy. But I probably couldn't have done this painting without an umbrella. The sun's glare would have been too blinding. I also had on a longsleeve shirt, hat and SPF 70.

Those leaves were quite a challenge! Well, when I start a painting, EVERYTHING seems like quite a challenge! But I just kept plugging away, painting what I could figure out. It's like doing a puzzle, only all the pieces are wet paint blobs!

I loved this scene especially because of the background, too. The mullen plants were growing amidst white yarrow, calendula and black-eyed susans. 4 hours just flew by! And thank goodness for left-overs, so I didn't have to cook dinner.

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