Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"A Window on Bentley's Backyard" - Plein Air Richmond

Here's a little story for #TakeMeBackTuesday about why it's never a bad idea to revisit an old subject. Even if you've failed the first time, every painting is a new adventure, and the unexpected can always happen.

For three years in a row, Kimberly and I would spend a week participating in Plein Air Richmond. We were lucky enough to have the most fabulous hosts, and I was always drawn to the beauty of their home, especially the staircase on the back of the house. For me, it represented some of the essence of Richmond, Virginia. Every house we visited had a beautiful backyard space that felt both intimate and welcoming. 

In 2016, I decided that I was going to paint that staircase. It was a complete disaster. I was overwhelmed by the complicated scene, and I ended up over painting the architecture, making it a cold and sterile piece. It just didn't capture the feeling of the space.

A year later, we were back. I decided to attempt the scene again, and this time fate was on my side. I was just a short while into the painting, and even though it was going well, it wasn't anything special. There were two dogs at the residence then, Bentley and Dudley. Their alpha had just passed away recently, and Bentley, the larger of the two, was still unsure of his role as the new alpha. As I painted, Dudley came outside and fell asleep at my feet. Bentley then descended the stairs and came to rest in a perfect spot, wanting to keep and eye on his brother, but still too afraid of me to come any closer. 

This was it. This was exactly what the painting needed. Bentley became the focal point of the piece. He stayed in place for about 20 minutes, which was all the time I needed to add him in. Once I had painted Bentley, everything else fell into place. Bentley added the perfect sense of a relaxed home to the painting. It went on to win Best In Show at Plein Air Richmond, and was then featured on the cover of Southwest Art Magazine and in Plein Air Magazine.

So, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

“A Window On Bentley's Backyard” • Oil on Linen • 18"x24” • Private Collection
Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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