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.
I think many of us artists have this problem – knowing when a painting is finished. Sometimes, without our realizing it, a painting is finished back a few steps. I know my tendency is to want to pick away, making the tiniest of tweaks. Often this can eradicate the spontaneity that was there especially when it comes to work done en plein air. We bring the piece back into the studio, study it, and then see the ‘flaws’ which we need to ‘correct’. Often these so called flaws are what bring the painting to vibrant life and ‘correcting’ them brings along a slow death. Unless we stop in time. And when is that time?
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. Continue reading
Recently I taught a one-day workshop to 15 artists from the Salt Spring Island Painters Guild. As always when I teach, I had a marvellous time. It seemed the same was true for most of the participants going by the feedback on the evaluation forms. Having said that however, I want to talk about about the trouble with workshops.
First, a little background info. My workshops are generally geared towards beginners and in fact, it turned out that half the class had never used pastels before. As I’m often frustrated (and then so are the students!) by the low quality of the pastels brought by participants, I insisted the students come with a few GOOD pastels, which included some light, middle, and dark values, Continue reading
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!!
I have been back and forth to Salt Spring Island over the past few weeks, visiting my Mum and Dad and painting on location. It’s been so wonderful getting back to plein air painting. The weather has been superb – warm enough not to need a sweater but not so hot as to be uncomfortable. Just perfect!
I thought it’s about time I started sharing what I’ve been up to. So here’s the progression of a pastel I did in Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island. (This was the one time I went out alone so you’ll have to wait for another blog post to catch sight of my parents at work!)
Let’s take a boo.
There is really nothing like painting on location!!
Here’s a quote about painting on location that I think is so true.
Feel free to Pin it if you agree!
You can see some of Charles Muench’s work by clicking here.
Painting on Location – upcoming video and contest!
On another topic, as you may have noticed in my Summer Newsletter, I’m working on a video about painting on location that will be for sale. I would love your input as to what information you would like to see included. What are your questions, your hesitations, about pastelling en plein air? Please let me know in the next few days as I am hoping to finish the voiceover and editing next week. Anyone who offers some input will be included in a draw for a free copy when I release it!! So come on, ask away!
Thanks for being here. You know I’d love to hear your comments about this post!
Until next time,
A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit my Mum and Dad on Salt Spring. It had been a while since I’d spent some time with them and although I have good friends on SSI and always want to visit everyone, I decided to spend the time wholly with my parents. We planned to paint plein air and that’s what we did.
We ended up at Mistaken Identity Vineyards, a delightful place to spend part of the day pastelling en plein air. Here is the progression from first thought to final piece (finished in the studio).
But that wasn’t quite the end of the story. Mistaken Identity Vineyards were holding a summer celebration that Sunday and it was just beginning to get underway. The local newspaper’s photographer, Jen MacLellan, was on hand and snapped a few shots of me pastelling en plein air.
And the following Wednesdaythis fine photo of me appeared in the Driftwood newspaper!
So much for a quiet sneak onto Salt Spring. I hadn’t let anyone other than my parents know I was visiting and now everyone knew I’d been on the island!!! Cracked me up I’ll tell you. 🙂
Here’s a view of the vines I was painting:
And here’s the final pastel after a bit of tweaking in the studio. You can see I warmed up the backlit vines as well as the ground. I also added some mauve areas, for instance, in among the background trees.
So remember, beware of sneaking around in vineyards!
Before I leave, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching a two-day plein air pastel workshop on Salt Spring 24-25th of August. If you are on my list of people interested in workshops, you will receive an email with more details in the next couple of days. If you are not on that list and would like more info, please let me know. And I encourage you to spread the word to anyone who might be interested! It’s open to all levels.
Thanks for spending this time with me. If you have any questions about this process or about painting en plein air, please leave a comment with your query.
Thanks so much for reading.