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.
After an hour and a half of delightful pastelling in the shade of the restaurant palapa, it was time to go swimming!
After returning home to Victoria, I had a look at the piece and made some observations (follow along on the annotated image below). What I wanted to avoid was making too many ‘corrections’ thereby sapping the plein air life out of the piece!
1. The tree trunk about the building ended abruptly like some telephone pole – there was too much value contrast with the green above. Needed to have a softer transition.
2. Strange line in the sky needed to be softened.
3. I guess I had started to indicate clouds but this area just looks like a light puffball.
4. An unfortunate intersection between leaves and building post needed to be dealt with.
5. A lot of detail and contrast tends to keep the eye on the right side of the picture. I want..
6. ..the eye to circle around to the left so I need to..
7. ..lighten the far left banana leaf and…
8. …provide some interest in among the leaves and trunks to provide visual interest
And here’s the final pastel with all the changes made:
I hope this progression was helpful. It certainly shows how I simplify a scene to focus on what’s important to me. In this case, it was the interesting shadows cast by the thatch roof on the warm sunlit building and the strong verticals of the coconut trees. By leaving out all the other buildings, I could simplify what the viewer sees and hopefully by doing so, convey the feelings I had looking at this scene.
How do you simplify a scene when painting en plein air? Do you remember to use a viewfinder and to squint to help you simplify? What else do you do to simplify the overwhelm of painting on location? I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
PS. Want more info about pastelling on location? Why not take my online course, “Pastel Painting En Plein Air”? Click here for more info!