Plein Air Summer

Its been a really long day doing computer work for my art business.  I am working in Florence and sharing the deck with this little guy.  I had to work at the table in our camper, it only reached 47 degrees today.  A little too chilly to be outside typing.  It may be in the low 30's tonite.  I am not ready for summer to be over. 

I have been plein air painting this summer with a group up here.  Painting on site is so much different than painting from photos.  First, there are so many choices to make about size of painting, which part of a scene do you want to paint, color palette, etc.

 When I get to a place I want to paint, I first take out my camera and just walk around capturing scenes.  Not only can I paint from them later, I find its helpful to have a reference of where I started the day in case I don't finish a painting on site.  Lots of things can affect the decision to not finish a painting.  This summer the wind blew over my easel soaking my nearly finished work with spilled turpentine - it washed away paint and was definitley too wet to work more.

Next I set up easel, palette, a painting chair.  Then I get down to painting in a sketch;  either complicated or very simple depending on the subject. I use thinned paint, usually in local color on white canvas.  But I also like to use toned canvas (I will save that topic for another post).

Then more choices to be made. Do I want to paint very quickly to catch the light before it changes.  Or should I get all the particular trees, sky etc blocked in and worry about light later.  If it takes too long to paint, light and the composition of a painting can change dramatically while you are painting.  This also happened this summer, taking my shadowed backlit scene and changing it to a sun drenched image, NOT what was on the canvas.

And then there are critters.  Those that bite and fly into your paint.  Those that wander across your field of view just long enough to inspire and frustrate you.  They rarely stand still long enough to get a very detailed rendering.  So in addition to accepting the challenges of outdoor painting, maybe I will continue to capture critters, flowers, skies, trees, rivers and lakes with my camera.  Like the little guy who visits on my deck.  And then paint the little critter later on.


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