Sunday, August 25, 2013

Some Plein Air Pieces

I finally got to go out and do some plein air painting this week! Plein Air - meaning outdoors on location - has become quite popular in the last few years. For me it has been an excellent way to train my eye and hone my skills. You have to paint quickly as the light changes fast. It also helps you learn to edit, edit, edit. Find a composition quickly, and ignore all the extra detail that doesn't tell the story. When I'm out I also take lots of photos. From these and the pieces I paint out there I can make bigger studio pieces. The photos help me capture a moment and fine tune the drawing, but its the color where photos really fall flat. The detail in the shadows disappears, the colors get simplified and blued. And then there is that subjective aspect. Standing in a location for a few hours you get the feel, the smell, the sounds. All that becomes a memory and back in the studio you can relive those feelings as you paint. And if you keep the painting, every time you look at it you are transported back to that place and time. It's a great thing!
So here are the two I did this week... Next weekend I will be spending 5 days painting in the Columbia Gorge! Can't wait! Now if I can just get over this summer cold :/

Calling this one "Shades of Summer" It is 9"x12" acrylic on canvas. The cut fields were such a rich golden color and the corn tall and ripe. This is Sauvie Island just to the north of Portland. Somehow the color just feels extra vivid out here. A lovely place to paint!

 Also done on Sauvie Island, a couple of days later. I was really feeling the clouds that day and wanted to spend some time trying to capture them. The whites of the clouds are actually yellowy goldener than this photo. It strikes me that when you paint from a photo you not only lose color subtlety in the reference, but also again when you photograph the painting! The sun was peeking through the clouds and lighting up different spots. I chose the time it lit up the bank of trees on the left. Painting clouds is a bit like herding cats! Talk about changing quickly! But still fun.

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