I don’t know about where you are, but here in Victoria, it’s still toooo damn cold to go painting en plein air! That’s why it was so lovely to work on location while I was in Mexico (I’ve been back just over a week). I painted en plein air a number of times, partly for the pure joy of it but also in preparation for my workshop in Spain in a couple of months. (You can read more about the workshop here -there’s still space so why not join us??) One of the things about working en plein air that I love is that you can change things up.
In this post, I want to share with you a piece I did where I tried to sort out the chaos of light and shadow.
I’ve been in Mexico for two weeks. One of my projects was to paint en plein air as preparation for my painting holiday workshop in Spain at the beginning of May. (Easier to paint outside here than in the rain and cold of home in Victoria BC at the moment!) To that end, for the first time when coming to La Manzanilla, I brought my easel. Usually I have a small box of pastels and board and paper so as you can imagine, way more than I usually bring! Still it’s been a treat to stand at an easel rather than have a rock, a log, a chair if I’m lucky, or flat on the ground if I’m not, dictate the scene I’m going to paint. Now it was only the need for shade that I looked for. The light is bright here, the colours vibrant, the shadows defined and dark.
We’re back from our two-week vacation in La Manzanilla, Mexico where we danced up a storm during the first week in a tango intensive workshop and then relaxed a bit in the second which is when I managed to get some pastelling time in. This pastel is a view from the verandah of Martin’s Restaurant. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the scene until I spoke the mantra, simplify, simplify, simplify! It’s always good when you remember that you don’t have to put everything in – only include what you want to say something about. Let’s have a look at the view and the thumbnail sketch I did of it.
Well I’m home from Mexico where I had a glorious time, first with my sweetheart Cam for a couple of weeks then with my lovely niece Aly for a week. Have to say it’s taken me some time to get back to this reality.
I did this plein air pastel while in La Manzanilla. I was going to post a blog about it while I was there but I just wasn’t happy with the pastel. So today I worked on it in the studio. I like it better but I’m still not sure about it.
Let’s have a boo.
Back in Canada, I ponder the pastel. I think the bright purple spot in the centre captures too much of the viewer’s attention. I also feel the turquoise wall needs to be darker (darker than it is in reality – this is where artistic license comes into play!).
So what do you think? Did you notice anything about the plein air pastel as it relates to the thumbnail I chose??
One of the problems is that I didn’t follow my thumbnail!! Bad girl. You know how I go on about creating a thumbnail as a way to design your piece and then continue to use it as a guide as you go? Well, somehow, I did NOT accurately make the transfer from thumbnail to paper. I have no idea what happened. Distractions perhaps?? 🙂 Anyway, I think this is part of the reason I am not totally happy with the piece.
Look at how little of the wall is shown in the thumbnail compared to the pastel. In the thumbnail, I’m focusing on the design made by the tree trunks. (You can also see the hint of a possible figure.) In my pastel, I include quite a bit of the wall. I think that’s because I was so taken by the turquoise colour. You can see below that the wall is a prime part of the second thumbnail I tried. I think there is a residue of this thumbnail in the pastel painting!
Anyway, wanted to share this lesson with you. Follow your thumbnail sketch!!
I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
As you may know, I’m spending a couple of weeks in La Manzanilla, Mexico. I’m finally settled in and the sun has once again graced us with its presence (the whole weekend was cloudy but that was still okay as it was WARM!). Realizing I had a blog post due, I finally set up a still life yesterday to get me warmed up before I head out to plein air later this week.
What to paint? It was my honey’s Cam’s body brush and shaving things that caught my eye this time and I thought, what the heck. So I set up the items on a table outside.
First the thumbnail:
Outside of course means changing light! The shadow created by the can of shaving cream and the brush soon disappeared leaving only the shadow under the razor. Luckily I had my thumbnail sketch to consult!
Here’s the pastel progression:
And there you have it. What do you think? Have you ever painted shaving things? I’d love to hear from you.
Next time, being the end of the month, you’ll be able to wonder at this month’s selection of pastel gems. Then, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a plein air progression for you of some scene here in La Manzanilla.
PS. Ahhhhh sunsets in La Manzanilla!
In February, I had the pleasure of being in La Manzanilla, Mexico for a week of tango workshops (yay!) followed by a week of relaxing and painting (more yay!). The paintings were done mostly en plein air and over the next few weeks, I’ll share two or three of those pieces.
The one I’m going to show you this time was an experiment. As many of you know, I generally paint with a limited palette. I decided to try using my very small set of Schminke pastels – only 11 colours to choose from so, in this case, the choice of pastels was severely limited. Eek!
I can’t decide whether the pastel is finished and if it isn’t, should I just keep working on it with the Schminke limited selection or should I bring in some other colours. At the end of this post, I’d like you to help me out with your thoughts.
So let’s take a look. (These photos were taken on site with my iPhone so, sorry, they aren’t the greatest.)
Once home in Canada, I am wondering if a cropped version of the plein air piece will work better. What do you think?
So that’s it. It was a delightful day to be out painting. I sat under a coconut tree and listened to the waves and the chatter of birds and people as they passed by. Nothing beats being outside, en plein air, working on a piece of art. When you look at your work weeks later, you re-live the scene and everything that you experienced. Wonderful.
Okay, time to get your feedback. Is it finished and if not, what suggestions? I also need a title….
I do look forward hearing from you!!
Until next time,
PS. Here’s the scene I painted