Monday, June 28, 2010

Tis the season for plein air!

Breezeway   oil/canvas   14 x 11
where plein-air painters abound.  Lots of competitions and lots of outdoor painters.  I just received word that one of the artists in my watercolor class, Marian Steiner, took an honorable mention at The Cuyahoga Valley Art Center Plein-Air paint-out this past weekend.  Congratulations, Marian!

My own process for painting outdoors has become more solid over the years as I realize what will make for speedier and more productive work.

1) always, if possible, start with a toned canvas.  This allows the brushes to glide.  In addition, the entire canvas is already covered, which makes minimal painting in non-important areas more do-able

2) try to locate a scene that interests me personally, so that I will be invested in its success....perhaps an area of interest as far as gardening, or one that incorporates both organic and straight line.  I really like combining parts of buildings with the gardens.

3) hone in on a color temperature dominance...this will help determine the color of the frame, as well as keep me on track.  cool painting?  warm painting?  one or the other

4) determine a mother-color that will be dominant and help me to determine the colors on my limited palette......I like to tweak the palette in order to avoid the static that occurs by using an exclusively local palette

5) use my viewfinder to help compose the scene

6) paint!  Some outdoor painters seem to enjoy conversation with others.  Unfortunately, I am not one of them,  as I find the interruptions in my painting process to be confusing and disorienting.  I am still working on how to solve this problem.

7) one stroke says it all....I try to rely on the each stroke for power and try not to alter them, as this leads to a mushy painting that has to be resolved after drying in the studio.  In plein-air work, this simply isn't possible.  What I see is what I get.

All in all, painting outdoors is invigorating and provides opportunities for thinking outside the box, for changing habits that inhibit creativity.

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