Making a Painting Together

“Painting together is all about trust. Trust that the other person will make what you’ve done better and not mess it up.”

View from Ecola State Park by Allan Marie
2011 | 12 x 16 |  oil on canvas
done en plein air at Ecola State Park on December 17, 2011

View from Ecola State Park by Allan and Marie

I’ve heard of a few partner painters: mother and daughter, even a husband and wife. Allan and I both love art but the only thing we’ve ever painted together is our annual holiday sunflower painting. It’s something I’m proud of, but doing it together causes a bit of friction at times. My unease with his bold chunky application of paint, his resentment that I’d totally wiped off what he’d done, and both of us feeling like the resulting painting wasn’t what we’d envisioned.

Marie painting

To commemorate our anniversary this year I wanted something special that we would always remember. I decided we’d try a plein air painting together in the hope that we could find a way to maximize our strengths, compensate for our weaknesses, and find a special painting bond. It didn’t hurt that the weather on December 17 was absolutely spectacular here in western Washington. The Oregon Coast called to us and we ended up at a spectacular viewpoint at Ecola State Park just outside Cannon Beach Oregon.

Painting is hard work and anyone who says otherwise is lying. It takes a lot of energy to stand outside and make a painting, let alone make a good one. It’s cold and windy or hot and humid. A person gets hungry, tired, thirsty and cramped. Insects abound, and forget about finding level ground for the easel. Paint gets smeared where it isn’t supposed to go–often on the artists face, and people love to gawk and comment.

Having two people to shoulder the load makes sense. We took turns, and promised not to undo what the other had done. We also made a pledge to trust each other. It was a relief to take a break, hike around or sit down, all the while knowing the painting was still in good hands and progressing nicely!

Allan painting

The result is the above plein air painting. It’s better than either of us could have done alone. We liked the idea that we were doing it together, and felt happy all the while we were doing it. Afterwards we felt like we’d captured the light and colors of the scene before us in a way that was unique and a bit characteristic of both our painting styles. It’s by Allan Marie!

Altogether it was an anniversary like never before. Who knows, we might just become husband/wife painting partners. I like that!

Here’s some more pictures of our painting trip: Oregon and Washington coast