Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Plein Air Journey ~ Season One and Two

I became interested in plein air painting many years ago and I spend a great deal of time during the summer months painting plein air (outside on location). My objective is to create a painting in a few hours capturing the mood or light on the given subject in natural light. I am not a purest, I do not think the entire painting need be finished on location but I do think my personal work is fresher if I can capture most of the subject in one setting. The seasons I've spent plain air painting are beginning to run together but I believe I began in the summer of 2003. I thought it might be fun to document my journey visually beginning with that summer.

Back in the late summer of 2003, I remember setting in a peach orchard. I could hear the thump of ripe peaches falling from the trees around me. It was hot, most likely August. This was my first season out painting and I was not very efficient or prepared. Prior to that summer I had been working almost exclusively with colored pencils. I knew that I could not complete a piece in a small amount of time using only colored pencils so I decided to combine water soluble colored pencils with dry ones. The group I paint with starts at around 9:00 a.m. and paints till around noon when we stop and gather for a critique of our work and eat our lunch. I remember having just a faint sketch done by noon and very little color on my piece. I started out using a half sheet of water color paper. The painting was enormous for the technique I was using!

I struggled through 2003 and 2004 trying to complete a painting in a few hours time. Heck, I would have been pleased to have one half done by noon!

"Just Peachy" and "A Gray Morn" are the result of those first few seasons. Both are rather large, about 14 X 20 inches and both are on hot press water color paper with water soluble colored pencils and dry pencils.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

YOU Are The First Filter

As artists we tend to have an emotional connection with each painting we work on. Something inspired us to paint the subject in the first place. As we work through the process of creating we reach a point when we must decide if it is finished. When that time comes is different for each of us. I like to live with a painting for a few days or weeks before I decide it is finished. I may "tweak" it a bit and then reassess. My final decision is based upon one question. Do I like it? If the answer is yes, it is finished, simple as that. If the answer is no, one of two things needs to happen. I must continue to adjust it or, I need to abandon it and move on. Sometimes making the decision to move on is not an easy one.

A few weeks ago I was out paining along the Willamette River. I was motivated by the river and it's bends and the way the light reflected off the water and banks. I especially liked the light on the cliffs. There was a tree at the top of the cliff that was bent over, barley hanging onto it's precarious perch. This intrigued me. I have worked on this painting, tweaked it, worked on it more and have finally come to the conclusion it is never going to be one of my better paintings.  I didn't capture the feeling that originally inspired me. I have fussed with it, adjusted the color, worked it over again and again. I just don't "like it".  I'll put a layer of gesso over it and hope the next painting turns out more to my liking.