Painting en plein air is a rewarding experience but usually has challenges. My own work is often done in a quiet(ish) spot as much as possible away from people and activity. This is not the case with this month’s guest blogger Nancie King Mertz! Nancie seems willing and able to set up just about anywhere – she sees something she wants to paint, she sets up. Often this is in her home town of Chicago but it can be anywhere she travels.
So much for getting this post out by the end of August! What can I say – the summertime craziness has discombobulated me.
The Alaska cruise with my family was lovely (bar getting bitten by some insect which blew up my foot into an ugly puff ball). It was so wonderful to get together with my siblings, their mates, and my parents. Sad when it was over. But then we had the pleasure of my sister and her partner visiting for a fun couple of days. Now, I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.
Right, what’s on tap today. Well I thought I’d share the progression of a plein air painting of trees that I have just entered into the Sidney Fine Art Show (fingers crossed).
My Mum, Dad and I went out painting in July. Unusual for us, this was an afternoon outing (rather than a morning one). Since we would start losing light, we didn’t want to spend a whole heap of time looking for a spot so we settled on parking at the Long Harbour ferry terminal. There was water, trees, and buildings to choose from. Even so, I had a hard time committing to a scene. And then I turned around and saw this:
This painting was unusual for me. For one thing, there aren’t many layers. And for another, it painted itself like an abstract. I was in wonder at the end of the hour and a half. How did that happen??
Which reminds me to remind you that I am offering a pastel workshop, “Moving Towards Abstraction,” on Salt Spring Island on the last September weekend. You can read more about it here. Please tell anyone you know who may be interested!
I do hope the progression of my plein air painting of trees was helpful. Did I leave something out? Let me know!!
Until next time,
PS. I know it’s not a pastel painting but I could not NOT tell you my good news!! I was awarded the GRAND PRIZE for “Perchance To Fly” in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s show Painting On The Edge – an open international juried show. This prestigious exhibition is difficult to get into and I was thrilled to have accomplished that but to win the top prize?? Unbelievable, unimaginable, unthinkable. But here it is, I won!!
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
When we’re on location I hear students complain that there is nothing to paint, that they want to move to another location. There is always something to paint – you may just have to look a little harder.
Take for instance this day I was out – it was overcast and I had limited time. It didn’t seem like there was much to paint but then this scene captured my attention:
The first thing I do before I settle in is to make a thumbnail sketch (as you all know!!) to check for value masses and balance:
When I am okay with that, I make a quick drawing in charcoal on my paper, in this case, Wallis Belgium Mist:
It’s time to get started. I pick three pastels in three values (light, medium, dark) and apply lightly and quickly:
Now I can begin adding a second layer:
And now I get down to work in earnest:
There are a group of dead branches emerging from the foliage. A tricky subject that needs to be included. How to do them? I just start in and see what happens:
I then add more details and more highlights. Eventually I realize I am beginning to get picky so it was time to stop. Before I did so, I added the small tree on the left feeling the design required a vertical at that point:
Back in the studio a few days later, after considering the pastel, I make a few more tweaks (on the fence for example) and then consider it done!
And just for fun, here are a couple more images – one of me at my easel and the other of the pastels I used:
Do you have questions about the creation of this pastel? Please ask!
Thanks for being here,