Last weekend Bereskin Gallery in Davenport organized a paint out along the riverside there. Mainly the LeClaire Park area between the roller dam and the stadium. Not a huge footprint but more than enough subject matter within eyeshot. Being a nice day, there were also more than enough gawkers strolling by.
Plein air painters expect dumbfounded looks and inane questions but these Davenporters are a sophisticated lot. They seem to know easel + person + brush = artist. More surprising still, apparently no one in the Quad Cities has an aunt who paints, nor do they struggle with drawing straight lines. One guy did mention Bob Ross, but then asked a series of REALLY intelligent questions about the painting process (one of many who did). Several returned to watch things develop. They were more like cheerleaders than gawkers. This was my view of the river walk by the park.
Afterward, I got out my sketchbook, mini-palette and waterbrushes to do a quick recon of the area. This is the glass skyway (that I think used to connect to a casino boat...I just dug the panorama).
Crazy as this world is nowadays, I feel pretty blessed to do what we do. That sentiment was brought home all the more as I sketched this fountain/memorial across from the Figge Museum (an all glass edifice which defies color matching since it changes every second with the light and has nothing taller nearby to shade it to a consistent hue).
I was working from a bench, near a disheveled fellow and his belongings. He was delivering a nonstop, speed-rap on the current state of our nation and the world to no one in particular. He was evidently well read. His complaints were encyclopedic, though Millennials and the governor of Illinois formed a thematic focal point. His observations seemed considered and I found myself agreeing on more points than not. Even the boulevardiers in Davenport are high functioning (hence my use of the swanky French term for street person).
I really wanted to sketch him...he felt more monumental than the monument I was sketching. On one hand, I was enthralled...on the other I wasn't sure making extended eye contact or taking photos was wise. If there's such a thing as "found performance art", he qualified. That's what I love about plein air - the encounter with the real.
Anyway, it got me thinking. There but for the grace of God...