A couple days ago I was on Salt Spring Island visiting my parents and one of the things I really wanted to do while there was to work en plein air. It’s been awhile since I’ve painted on location and as I’m preparing for my workshop in Croatia, this was on the to-do list. It was a perfect day for painting and although I went through the angst of I-can’t-remember-how-to-paint during the process, I was quite happy with the result. Of course the outcome wasn’t as important as the doing of it but still, it’s nice to have some success. This post reveals my thoughts on tweaking my plein air painting back in the studio as well as the progress of the painting on location.
Pastelling En Plein Air
First the scene:
This whole scene caught my eye. But I needed to decided what was the thing that most stopped me to paint. That’s where the thumbnail came in…
I drew up the design quickly in vine charcoal on Wallis paper (yes, I still have a few sheets!) then began applying pastels.
Tweaking My Plein Air Painting
A few days later, back in the studio, it was time to think about tweaking my plein air painting. I had a quiet long look at it and decided on these changes:
- This space between the tree branches worried me. I felt my eye was getting stuck here in the brightness of the sky so decided to fill it in.
- One of the things in my thumbnail is the dark wood of this entryway. Although the light coming through was showing them upas dark, I felt it would be better if they tied in with the darkness of the building more.
- Although I started putting in the idea of a shadow (which was barely there in real life), I thought it would be better to strengthen it, including the shadow cast on the road.
- I wanted to bring the eye around the painting and that wasn’t happening. So I decided to work a bit more on the grass and include dark and light lines.
- The area behind the fence seemed a bit of an afterthought so I wanted to give some attention to that and in doing so, help the eye finish its route around the painting.
- This corner seemed unsatisfactory to me.
- I forgot to add this one to the annotated image but decided that the right hand corner was drawing my eye too much too so covered the area in leaves.
Tweaking my plein air painting meant trying to balance the finesse of studio work with the fresh look achieved working en plein air. Retaining the vitality of on location work is a tricky thing to do especially without practice, and I felt rusty!
I made the tweaks listed above as well as a number of other small ones. I can see a couple of other things I’d like to tweak but sometimes you just have to let go and say, That’s it!
This was such a delightful two hours! And it was especially wonderful to go trekking out with my lovely parents. I love that we all make our own creations in silence and then afterwards, reconnect to discuss our experiences and work. Nothing like it!! It doesn’t matter, in the end, how a painting turns out. Instead, what counts is the process of painting, the journey, the experience of the environment around you. Wonderful!!
Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you paint en plein air? And about tweaking my plein air painting, what are your thoughts? Do you work on your plein air pieces back in the studio or are you a strict plein air-ist?
Until next time!
PS. In only one week, Cam and I will be on our way to Croatia!! We have a few days in Zagreb then make our way to the Istrian Peninsula, eventually ending in Poreč where the workshop will take place first week in September. Want to know more about it? Click here.
And just a reminder, I will be teaching in Spain early May 2018. For more info, click here.