Sunday, January 31, 2016

plein air painting


THIS is my view of plein air painting:

First, you have to research plein air painting and see HOW it's done.
You read a lot of books, ask people. or watch you tube videos and take a few beginner's workshops.

Second, you have to find the perfect easel or pochade box.
So you do a lot of searching, you ask a lot of artists and you finally buy one.

You can't wait for it to arrive in the mail.
When it finally gets delivered, you are SO excited.
You open it up, play with it, and can't wait to go out painting.
Try out all the stuff you've read.

You head out for destinations known or unknown. 
You have all of your gear.
As little as possible, as light as possible, 
but you still have most of the following stuff:

your new pochade box, tripod, paints, palette, turpentine, brushes, apron,
paper towels or kleenix, wipees, hat, sunglasses, umbrella, seat or chair, 
sketchbook, pens or pencils, panels or canvas, plastic bags,
wet panels or canvas carrier, bug spray, gloves, and on and on...

You drive until you find that perfect scene.
You get out and you unload ALL of those things above that I mentioned.

You set up your tripod, attach your new box, and realize:

It's too heavy, it's too light, too bulky, not strong enough.
It doesn't have a good place to hold turpentine or brushes.
The place designed to hold your panels is too cumbersome
and hard to change around and switch up for different sizes.
Your palette area is too small or too big.
Your tripod is not heavy enough to hold everything in place.
You need that "rock holder thingy" that was offered for sale
 at the time you got your box and you thought you wouldn't need.

My friend Carla Forrest

So, anyway, you set everything up, put out your paints, 
your brushes, your umbrella. You're ready!

But alas, the wind is strong and blows your umbrella over.
Also your panel decides to break away and go flying 
down the beautiful arroyo you so want to capture.
Your hat flies off, the bugs are buzzing around your head,
Mean-looking ants are at your feet. 
And you are thirsty and hungry for food.

BUT - and here's the thing about plein air painting - 

When you finally get it right 
 (and you will - I have six pochade boxes and easels to prove it),
the feeling of being alone out in the landscape is MAGICAL.

It's just you and nature.
Or maybe you go with a friend
 and it's just the two of you, enjoying the day.
Making some art.

The clouds are rolling by.
The light is moving quickly, so you have to capture it.
You hear a few birds overhead. 
Maybe see a squirrel or coyote. Or deer.

Rosie Sandifur

You block in your work.
For me, it's darks, then a highlight or two,
then the middle values.
You sometimes think, what am I doing out here?
I don't know what i'm doing.
This isn't working!

And all of a sudden 
(three hours later), it all comes together.
You place that one color note of paint in one spot, 
and BAM, you have created something you're proud of.

SO, the light is finally gone, you're cold (or hot) and tired.
You load ALL of your gear back in your car.
And go home.

And go back out again as soon as possible.

And that's what plein air painting is about.

Try it - you will love it or hate it.
But you can say you've DONE it.

Next time - Painting from Photos

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