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Sometimes I'll throw a little useful info out here for you, other times it's just a bit of mumbo jumbo



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  • Artists of the New Century at the Bennington Center for the Arts
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The New Golf

July 21, 2015 by admin

I heard this at paint camp this year… the Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks, and then heard it again while painting last week with George Van Hook. We tossed it around, and considered some of its possibilities…

“Plein air painting is the new golf”.Dogwood Canyon 012a

Okay, I think I heard it during one of Eric’s morning announcements. It’s kind of like the “morning sing” at day camp many moons ago, but it got some people talking. I think I actually missed him saying it outright, it was like I caught it out of the side of my ear, and asked another, “did I just hear what I think I heard?”

If you don’t know Eric Rhodes, he is the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, and Fine Arts Conniseuer, along with Streamline Publications, he puts on the “Publisher’s Invitational” each year, and the “Plein Air Convention”. He’s an all around fun guy, very instrumental in bringing plein air art to the forefront, and is looking towards creating a major art musuem in “the City” for this genre of art.

What do you think? Do you think it is, or could be? Maybe you don’t even like golf, maybe you don’t like plein air? Either way let’s look into this.

First things first, golf is a sport, painting outdoors is an art. I’ve heard arguments either way in this, but let’s just say it is for this little blog.

Now I play a little golf, I’m terrible at it, but I still enjoy it. Will I quit because I’m so bad at it? No way, I do hope to get better, and I think it is a lot of fun, and a blast to do with a few others… like painting plein air.

I’m a little better at the plein air thing, but like golf I didn’t start out that way. Working hard at improving your “game” will make you a better “player”, and if you have some natural skill lying away inside you, it’s possible that you might be able to hone it to a professional status… like painting plein air.

But only a small fraction of golfers make it to the pro circuit, why do they do it? I have no idea, ask them actually, I know why I do it, I love the outdoors, it’s challenging, a bit of a work out, and get to spend some time with friends.

So why not consider plein air painting the new “golf”? What does that really mean?

Here I’m only second guessing, but my take on it, and then what I would love to see is more artists out and about painting on location. Getting together for weekend outings for paintouts with friends and inviting others from around the area.

This IS happening more and more every day. In some parts of the country I actually don’t have to explain what “plein air” painting is, they tell me, and mention artists, and festivals they are aware of. I found this strangely comforting, it’s not like that everywhere, but then some places still have telephone booths.

I’m one of the “Newbie’s” to painting outdoors, but from listening to others around the country it has taken an upward swing in popularity. From an occasional plein air festival or competition in our city to almost a half-dozen, with plein air groups popping up everywhere meeting and painting quite regularly.

It’s amazing

The New Golf

The New Golf

There are still many who feel that these plein air studies are just that… studies for larger more detailed studio pieces. I can see that, and there are many I use for exactly that purpose, but more and more I am loving the fresh, live feel that I can only capture outdoors on location and leave them alone when I bring them home.

What would happen if everyone went out and painted after work or on weekends? Do you think it would water down the market and make what you do at your easel outdoors not so special? Or are you one who thinks that if everyone was out there painting they would understand better what it takes to make a good plein air painting? I know it’s not easy to make a successful plein air painting, believe me I’ve gone through a lot just to get a little. So maybe everyone being familiar with “live on location”, painting would be good for the field?

No not everyone will take to it, but maybe it would create a greater appreciation, and in turn open up more galleries to this new plein air phenomenon?

Personally, I would like to see more artists out painting. It’s so hard to visit artists and check out their artwork when they are closed up in the studio. (maybe that’s intentional, you think?)

But is it the “New Golf?” (and which side of the quotation marks should the question mark be on?)

I think it could be, or even should be. It’s for the young and the old alike. You can take all day at it, or you can just go out for a “quickie”. It can be done alone, or with friends. In towns, on the countryside, and in any sort of weather. You can travel the world taking part in plein air festivals, competitions and just good old paint outs. There are a few major invitational’s around the country that bring out the “creme de la creme” of the art world, you can meet, see the artists create, and a chance to purchase right there.

Now that I think about it, it’s better than golf!

It’s a fun little thing to consider.

This is ART, and there is some amazingly beautiful pieces being created across the world amidst the bugs, and wind, and between the curious onlookers and those who pretend they don’t see you. The good will rise to the top, and the rest will be testimony that we were out there trying.

It’s not easy, but is anything worth doing?

That’s my take on it, wish I had been paying better attention during Eric’s announcements, and then never actually got to ask him about it when we painted. What I would do is I’d ask him, I know he’d be happy to tell you. Give him a shout, Eric Rhodes, Plein Air Magazine.

In the meantime, get out and paint, and then do it again.extreme-golf

12 Responses to “The New Golf”

  1. Carol rubsam says:

    I love what you do. I respect what you do, because I am a wimp and I don’t like being in the rain and wind and being assaulted by insects. Maybe because I am old…. Plein air painting is like golf for me! I am distracted by what is going on around me. I love to play but I am done before I am finished!

    • admin says:

      Interesting comments, and I appreciate you taking the time. I think a wise person recognizes that point when they are done, even before the game starts. I’m not a big fan of bugs either and try to do everything I can to avoid them… outside 😉

  2. Matt says:

    I don’t like golf.

    • admin says:

      Many don’t, and I hated it till I actually tried it. Sure it’s not for everyone… kind of like abstract art, but different. Thanks for the comment Matt.

  3. Nicely written, Greg.

    Yes… I don’t much like golf, either, but I do see the parallels and understand why Eric said that and is advocating it.

    Perhaps you have read Winston Churchill’s wonderful little book called “Painting As a Pastime”. I loved the book and also agree with much of what Churchill had to say and feel about painting. I do feel that the word pastime trivializes the “art” part of painting, but would love to see more people outside enjoying the world — really seeing their surroundings as we do when we paint – would make us better, more appreciative and healthier. — Certainly better than staring at our little electronic doo-hikies.

    Be well, Greg. I enjoyed “golfing” with you at paint camp.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comments Marian, and I will look into “Painting as a Pastime”, I’ve read other Churchill, but nothing he’s written about art.

      I do see how you might feel that art being a “pastime” trivializes it so to speak. But for many that’s what it is. I think that some of what is being taught in our hallowed halls of higher education is a beat more demeaning towards art, but then that is a whole new story.

      Thanks again.

  4. Ed Bouwmeester says:

    I do enjoy the game of golf and manage to get out np more than 5 or 6 times per summer. I usually play in fundraiser tournaments designed to support good causes. I’ve always thought of the game of golf as a metaphor for life: we desire to play in the fairway but find ourselves in the rough, or the sandtrap, or worse, we can’t find our ball at all!

    Nonetheless we persevere and choose to remember the handful of respectable shots and quickly forget the 5 dozen shots that end with a groan.

    Golf is not for everyone, and Plein Air painting will certainly appeal to a smaller audience than golf. There are certain parallels to be drawn between the two activities: The benefit of social comraderie, the challenge of problem solving a quick oil sketch or a tough lie, the triumph of producing a painting you are willing to attach your name to or sinking a 40 foot putt.

    I think the vast majority of people don’t see themselves as artists, I have no stats to draw from, but I feel secure in this assessment. For these, Plein Air painting will always be far more challenging than a round of golf, due largely to their lack of confidence or willingness to wrestle with a painting and get a satisfying result in the process.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ed,
      I to only play a few rounds of golf a year, but I enjoy even when I have to use a whole box of balls to get through the course. I do it for fun and enjoyment, as I do painting. If it were not enjoyable for me, I would not do it.

      One does not need to be able to know how to paint to get out and experiene some of the pros and cons of plein air painting, same with golf, many times I’ve hit through another group that were out there learning the game, but even more so, I’ve let others hit through me.

      In both activities there is room for the novice and the pro, and there are facilities and events best fitting each. But I bet there are more people out there with art of somesorts on their walls than clubs in their garage, so why not it be art that they created?

      Thanks again,

  5. Eric Rhoads says:

    I appreciate you mentioning the new golf. Though I’ve talked about it in editorials and on stage, you have prompted me to blog about what I’m thinking, which you can find here:

    • admin says:

      Ah, so now there is no excuse for me not knowing exactly what you are talking about.

      Thanks for taking the time, and I have just read your article in Outdoor Painter regarding “The New Golf”.

      I love everything about it, and it’s place in the world. Young and old, weak or strong, it could be for everyone, everyone who enjoys the outdoors.

      Now to go out and “earn my green jacket”.

  6. Jim Voogt says:

    Hi Greg,
    I found your description of the “new golf” fascinating. You are able to put into words what many of us think but do not have the ability to write down. I also enjoyed the comments by readers and your replies. I feel honored to have you as a friend.

    • admin says:

      Well well Jim, that is so very kind of you to say, and I think the next time you and MJ think about going to the golf course you might consider grabbing those paints and heading off to your favorite trail, you’ll be surprised at what you see 😉 Take care and hope to see you soon.

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