Painting outdoors - Lyn Boyer
“Havana Blues,” oil on linen, 9 x 12 in., Plein air. Painted in Havana on the plaza in front of the Parque Centrale with Eric Rhoads and the gang at the 2018 Paint Cuba Publisher’s Invitational.

On painting outdoors and more: Today we tip our hats to Lyn Boyer, who shared an inspirational post recently with the Oil Painters of America on why we try to rush toward greatness, even though we all know that time is an essential ingredient to mastering anything that’s worthy. See what she has to say about this topic, and be inspired.

From “8 Seconds” by Lyn Boyer

Pin this on your wall. It’s your license to learn. I’m giving you permission . . . right now . . . to slow down. We’ve become victims of speed. “How many paintings did YOU get done today??” A better question: What did you feel about the place you chose to paint today? Someone once asked me, “What do you paint?” An innocent enough question, but I knew that they were asking what “things” do you paint. Do you paint landscapes? Do you paint cats? I didn’t say anything for a while because I wanted to give them an honest answer. I finally said, “I paint what I love.” And you can’t love something in a hurry. It takes time.

Painting outdoors - Lyn Boyer
“I’m always tuned to moments when an opportunity presents itself,” Lyn says. “I glanced up one day from what I was doing and saw a scene entirely made of grays, clearly divided into four differing value shapes, with each gray bent to a different cool or warm. I immediately grabbed one of my small training panels and set my intent to get those values right and also to practice mixing the subtle shifts in the grays.”

Okay let’s talk about speed. You’re watching the Olympics. You see a skier totally shred a slalom course at a billion miles an hour carving a perfect line as you hear them give the smack down to each gate. It’s INSPIRING. It’s so inspiring you run out and buy skis (probably the wrong ones) and a lift ticket. You dump yourself off at the top of a Double Black Diamond and with every cell of your being, every ounce of your will, every deep desire of your heart you decide to just “express yourself” with wild abandon. You launch yourself over the edge. You are carried down in a stretcher. Do I need to say it. You see a great painter. You are INSPIRED. You buy a bunch of stuff. You launch yourself at your canvas to express yourself with wild abandon. You’re carried out on a stretcher.

I’ve been asking myself a question for the past couple of years. Why do we as painters sometimes try to “cheat the gods” — meaning, try to shred the gnar without the chops — when athletes and musicians would never dream of it, because they clearly know if they do, they will end up dead, in the hospital, or humiliating themselves on stage at Carnegie Hall. As painters we can cheat because:

1. We’re not going to poke an eye out with a paint brush if we do piles of paintings showing zero improvement.
2. We can always find someone who doesn’t want to hurt our feelings to tell us we’re brilliant.
3. We can find a show to enter that gives out so many ribbons they’re pretty much participation awards.

For us, there are no life-threatening consequences. Except maybe to our soul. Then one day we look in the mirror and say, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” We get a fire in the belly that drives us to find another way. We wake up and start working our butts off to conquer the skills that have bucked us off a hundred times. We never give up, and we let out a battle cry that echoes off the canyons the day we stick it — the day we stay on for the eight seconds and hear the buzzer. Now THAT makes life sweet and imbues our paintings with a power that speaks to our audience . . . (continue reading on the Oil Painters of America blog)

Bonus Art From Lyn Boyer

I want my paintings to be the most honest, raw, and immediate response to the scene I put on canvas. I complete them in one to three hours, depending on whether a cloudburst is about to dump on me or getting struck by lightning becomes a possibility. I typically don’t touch the plein air paintings at all after bringing them back to the studio unless there is something very obvious that needs a quick correction.

Painting outdoors - Lyn Boyer
“Classical Gas,” oil on linen, 8 x 10 in., Plein air, Honorable Mention: Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta 2018. This was one of those “slam on your brakes” moments. The Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, New Mexico is a must for any painter who loves the amazing beauty and patina of time-worn things.
Painting outdoors - Lyn Boyer
“Dam Graffiti,” oil on linen, 9 x 12 in., Plein air. This is a small dam on the Rio Grande that stopped me in my tracks. The big graphic shapes and geometric detail of the rails and mechanics of the dam were such a mesmerizing foil for the wildness of the water and vegetation.
Painting outdoors - Lyn Boyer
“The Gaging Station,” oil on linen, 16 x 8 in., Best of Show: Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta 2018.
This is a gaging station on the Rio Grande just south of Taos, New Mexico. At the opening of the Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta I saw a gal staring at the painting. She turned out to be a retired Gage Station operator and was able to share a few stories of her years monitoring the water levels on the Rio Grande through droughts and floods. When I choose to paint a place where nature and civilization cross paths I’m always wondering about the folks whose lives touched the place. How incredible to get to meet one.

Learn more about outdoor painter Lyn Boyer here.

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  1. Lyn,
    Lovely essay and so true.Love the Embudo gas pumps.So much fun to meet you at Papnm festival.Keep writing and painting!

    • What a great time the PAPNM Festival was. Great to meet you too! And I promise. Writing and painting are my versions of eating and breathing. I’d become slowly transparent and vanish in a puff of smoke without them 🙂 Paint on Sue!

  2. Nice article! It’s good to slow down, but sometimes hard. I met you at PACE. The day it was super windy in the Park towards the end of the day. You were working on a great painting.

    • Thank you Ellen! Boy do I agree with you. It can be hard! Nothing truly worthwhile ever seems to be easy. But, the rewards for sticking it out – over the moon! Full disclosure – I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to beat my head against my palette in frustration in spite of the dangers of a face full of cadmium! Happy painting and so nice to meet you at PACE. Hope to see you next year in San Francisco!

    • Thanks you so much Joyce. I’m glad the article struck a chord for you. It was great meeting you at the PAPNM Festival too! Hope 2018 is a year full of fun and progress. Feel free to yell “Wahooo!” each time you conquer a new skill 🙂


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