This summer on Salt Spring Island, I was fortunate to paint en plein air a few times with my Mum and Dad. I keep saying it but really, there’s nothing like painting on location for a rewarding experience, both in life and in technical and skills learning. So what did I learn this time?
Before I go on, let me tell you what attracted me to this scene. I have passed this place by car so many times and thought, I’d like to paint that! Why? Well first off, I’m a sucker for paths and roads that take us somewhere (obvious or hidden). I also love the light patterns made by trees over such paths. And I love yellow houses! This scene had all these elements in spades.
Let’s take a look at my progress.
En Plein Air Pastel Of The Old Creamery
At this point, it was time to go home. I was pretty pleased but knew there was still work to be done to bring it to completion.
Fast forward three months to November in the studio.
Here’s the thing that bothered me most: with the house being such a bright yellow, there wasn’t much to entice the eye to go elsewhere, and if it did do some travelling, it didn’t stay away very long. This is true both in the colour and black and white version.
So that was my job, to create a reason for the eye to circle the painting and touch all areas. The trick would be to retain the spontaneity of the piece as I made the changes. Let’s see what happens.
So what did I learn?
In no particular order, I learnt that:
1. A large yellow area in a painting is mighty powerful especially when surrounded by darker areas
2. I didn’t follow even my simplest of thumbnails. If I had, I would have had much more light in the foreground to balance out the yellow house
3. I didn’t follow my own advice and create a three-value sketch. I rushed in, eager to capture the ever-moving light. If I had, I would have had a clearer map to guide me (see #2 above)
4. It’s ever so easy to keep fiddling on a piece in the studio. Leave it be!
5. A careful analysis of why the piece isn’t yet successful is important. It pays to spend the time because then you know what to do to correct it
6. A mat helps me ‘see’ a painting that much more clearly
7. Make a change then walk away. Don’t make a judgment about it too quickly. It might be just the thing even though, at the moment of making the mark(s), you may think you’ve overdone it.
I think that’s about it….at least that’s all that comes to mind for now.
A Christmas Special!!
You know all about the online course, Pastel Painting En Plein Air, that I launched at the beginning of October. If you were one of those who bought, a huge thank you!!! If you were one of those who missed the launch price and are still thinking about getting the course, or if you’d like to give the course as a Christmas gift, here’s an opportunity not to be missed. I’m happy to offer you 25% off the regular price until the 25th of December! Click here to read all about the course. You can purchase from there or go here to go directly to purchase. Remember to use the promo code gailsgift when you come to pay!!
Why not treat yourself? You can enjoy taking a workshop in the cozy comfort of your own home. Come better weather, you’ll be all set to go out painting en plein air!
Teaching An En Plein Air Workshop In France!
Yes, you read that right! I have the opportunity to teach a workshop in France in 2017! Cool huh? Look out for more info next year.
Okay, that’s it for me. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Did you learn anything??
In my next post, I’m delighted to say we have another guest blogger. I can’t wait!
Until next time,
PS. My painting companions!
I am sooooooooooooooooo lucky!!!