– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

Jan Norsetter is showing her paintings from last summer’s trip to Ireland and Scotland at Zazen Gallery, in Belleville, Wisconsin, from April 15-June 3, but before the opening, she’s spilling the beans on her secret weapon on the painting trip, and her one regret.

Lead Image: “Whiddy Island, Bantry, Ireland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.

Norsetter knew she was going to have a show based on the paintings she completed on the six-week trip. She felt a little pressure from that. Luckily, she had a secret weapon, something most of us don’t have: a spouse who will cook, drive, and even mix mother colors on the palette.

Norsetter painting on a road near Bantry, Ireland
Norsetter painting on a road near Bantry, Ireland

“I did react to my first painting with some trepidation and disappointment, thinking it was not good enough,” says Norsetter. “But upon returning, I realized how good they turned out. I planned the whole thing just to paint. And I really relished painting almost every day for six weeks. It’s an incredible luxury, just to focus on that. And … my husband was with me and was perfectly willing to let me paint. He mixed colors, mother colors on another palette. It was sweet. And he did all the cooking and driving. Yes, that was great.”

“Magnificent Pines Near Gairlochy, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 10 x 7 in.
“Magnificent Pines Near Gairlochy, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 10 x 7 in.

And she would do one thing differently. “I didn’t think I needed my visor, and I did,” says Norsetter. “Scotland had months of rain. But we were there at the end of August, and it had just stopped raining. It was pretty much gorgeous; there were a few raindrops here and there. Everyone remarked about the weather and what a change it was from the solid rain. I regretted not bringing my baseball cap.”

“The Boats in Bantry Bay, Ireland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.
“The Boats in Bantry Bay, Ireland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.

That seems to be her only quibble, and that seems to indicate a very successful trip. What did she do right?

“I tried to get faster at getting enough paint on the boards at the beginning — the foundation paint,” she says. “In doing so, I used the palette knife a lot on the first layer. I found that was faster than my brushes.”

“Moy Farm, Banavie, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.
“Moy Farm, Banavie, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.

“We rented cottages in Ireland and Scotland, and used them as home bases. That made some of the logistics easier.”

She advises, “Definitely rent a car. You will want to get around, and you may want a refuge from the wind and rain. The wind was so strong at times that I couldn’t stand up in it.”

“Strone Farm, Banavie, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.
“Strone Farm, Banavie, Scotland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.

Norsetter says she came home with 42 finished paintings and a few that never really gelled. She plans on hanging 33 of them at her show at Zazen — maybe a few more. “I’ve been doing the layout for the gallery, with little tiny photos for all the paintings, and just deciding how I want it. There is enough wall space for five more.” Norsetter worked fairly small — all her pieces were 7” x 10”. Why that size? “I tried out a bunch of 8” x 10”s before we left and didn’t love the aspect ratio,” she says. “The 6” x 8”s I painted on my last trip seemed too small. I wished I had a few more sizes, but it wasn’t horrible, and the consistency in size was for the ease of travel and packing them around. I only had to have two painting carriers of the same size to transport most of them.”

Norsetter’s setup for transporting wet panels, using rubber bands as spacers
Norsetter’s setup for transporting wet panels, using rubber bands as spacers

Her last bit of advice for someone planning a similar trip? “Don’t have huge expectations. Just paint for the sake of painting. Let yourself go.”

“Local Road 8724 Near Bantry, Ireland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.
“Local Road 8724 Near Bantry, Ireland,” by Jan Norsetter, 2015, oil, 7 x 10 in.

For more information on the show, go here.

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