Friday, April 15, 2011

Writing "en plein air"

Recently I attended an event called "A 'Plein Air' Painting Event," in which close to forty painters were scattered throughout the many acres of the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens painting en plein air. I had never seen painters working in the open air before, and was eager to see how they do it. I've always been a lover of art, but not a collector, as I could never afford to buy the art pieces that I liked. I've been interested in the craft of painting, although I've never painted. I've attempted drawing, decided I have no real skill at it, and quit without getting into actually painting with oil or acrylic. So, my understanding of the craft is very poor. But I definitely love a beautiful painting.

My closest foray into art is photography, which I consider myself an amateur, maybe an advanced amateur, because I've never mastered the more advanced techniques of photography. But I take a fair picture. I in no way think photography is a more difficult art to master than painting. But the results of photography can be no less artistic in its own way than a painting.

What has all of this to do with writing. Over the years I have written en plein air. In fact, it's my preferred way of writing. Sitting outside under the open sky and writing is more satisfying than sitting inside and writing. There's something special about writing en plein air. It brings writing to a whole new level. Writing becomes a multi-dimensional experience: the activity of writing combined with the enjoyment of your surroundings.

I have enjoyed writing in many different locations. When I was working, I used to sit outside my office, which had a deck running along a lake. On my lunch hour, I would sit under the sun and write, either in my journal, in which the environment becomes, sometimes, the subject of my entry, or on a novel or short story or poem. It was the best part of my day.

At home, my favorite place to write is on the patio, sitting next to my swimming pool. There's something about water that inspires me. I feel as if I'm accomplishing more than just writing. I'm living at a higher level. The sun rising in front of me, the birds chirping, the squirrels running through the trees, the cooler morning air, all play on my senses. Writing is living. Writing en plein air is living beautifully.

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