I was surprised to notice that I hadn't painted for an entire month during the holidays. Time can really slip by. Some of my friends had longer artistic dry spells - six months or so. So it was especially sweet that we all got together to paint yesterday - on a glorious and warmer-than-usual winter day in the high desert of Washoe Valley, Nevada.
Painting with friends gives you the support you need to make those first tentative strokes from "rusty-fingers". We gave encouragement to each other as we mentally struggled with being unsure of what we were doing. After an hour we felt more "at home" with our medium and relaxed and enjoyed the fact that we were back in the game.
The fact that it was a gorgeous day certainly helped - even if we bombed we could still enjoy just being out there with friends.
Painting with friends can get you back on a roll and get you revved up to look forward to the next painting at home or the next scheduled paint-out. Painting outside presents challenges that we don't have in a studio painting from a photograph. If you are with friends you can talk about these mysteries and stumbling blocks and get ideas from your friends.
My challenge to myself this day was to paint the patterns in the ice on the small lake. Soon this ice will be melted and I won't see this scene again to paint - so it was fun to try and experiment.
And I admit I probably wouldn't have gone out to paint this day if it weren't for my friends...