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Out of Time and PlaceFriday, October 12, 2012 by Steve Hill
Filed under: Exhibits and Events
Out of Time, Place - SLO train station
Out of Time, Place - SLO train station
While participating at the San Luis Obispo juried Plein Air Event last week, I was given a rare opportunity to be involved simultaneously with writings by Patti Sullivan, San Luis Obispo poet.

Patti observed me painting on-site at the San Luis Obispo Train Station and then wrote 2 poems about her own connections and experience with the subject I had chosen to paint, pictured here and titled: “Out of Time and Place”.

Patti read her 2 poems – “Not Fade Away” and “Plein Air Poetry with Steven R Hill”, at a special poetry night sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art last Thursday, with my painting displayed on an easel, as she read.

My original copy of this poem, beautifully illuminated in collage style, is a visual treasure, as well - with icons, treasured photos of an old friend, images of pastel sticks, her own colorful artwork. To say that I was blown away by all this would be a complete understatement. As she wrote: “That's what plein air painting gives you – the chance to be surprised” Read her poem and enjoy!

     Plein Air Poetry with the artist Steven R Hill

I've got crickets on the brain - the kind you can fall asleep listening to
and the kind that rock and roll

My assignment – to meet up with a plain air painter near the train station
to observe and write about the experience
But first there's a coffee break at Sally Loo's Café – this is a tough life

Then it's onto business – there's art to be made- a poem to write
He sets up his easel and shows me the tools of his trade
Colorful round disks called pan pastels, hard pastels and soft pastels
how they can be crushed, have highest pigment, they will last forever
they won't discolor like oils…and do not fade away like watercolors…

Which brings me to the crickets!

Reading up on our historic railroad district – how Jack Kerouac stayed
here in 1953 – working the trains. He wrote home how the
“nights were hushed…falling asleep listening to crickets…”

Which made me think of Buddy Holly and his Crickets singing “Not Fade Away”
the song would not leave me all night – then forgotten until today
When my painter brings it up – now I'm back in that 45 rpm groove..
“...your love for me has got to be real…”

Now I'm concentrating again- hearing about “…blocking the big ones first,
killing, tooth, warms already down, cool down with hard sticks…”
Amazing that this painting is coming along so quietly and peacefully
with all that violence going on

He tells me the details always find their way into the story -
but that skateboarder zooming by didn't make the cut
same with those two yellow taxi's parked out front of the station

He says he paints what he sees, not what he knows is there
that's why the roof tiles look just like what they are
even though they aren't drawn in- the shading and colors have recreated them

Yesterday when he did his sketches in the white heat of the day
abundant shadows - then this morning only fog
no shadows only “flat light” to work with

That's what Plein Air painting gives you
the chance to be surprised – have all your plans come undone
to step back and review all the positives and negatives
a little creative erasing here and there
a little grumbling and sighing over one “hard wall”

Must get that palm tree in too – it's San Luis Obispo after all

An odd brownish sheet of course paper
has been transformed into amazing beauty
pastel sticks left in a jumbled mountain

This is not photo realism
there's no blue or yellow on that building
but there is now
and we're all the better for it

Now the sun wants back into the action- too late
We're done here

“…it has got to be real…..and not fade away…”

Patti Sullivan 10/3/12

Reader Comments

1. Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 7:33:52 PM by Mary Bywater Cross
Wonderful Steve! I was standing there observing the two of you sharing your artistic tools. This experience is what my pastor calls "holy interruptions," - unexpected events or people that enrich our lives as we go about our regular routines.
2. Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 8:43:51 PM by aurore maren
This IS what ITS all about.....lovely and thank you both for sharing this moment!

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