|6 x 6 oil on linen covered panel|
I have been painting outside with other artists in my home area once a week. I also did some plein air painting on a recent trip to Newport Beach (Southern California). My goal is to improve my observation skills and speed up the analytical part of painting. By that, I mean that whether you paint outdoors from life, or indoors from a photograph, you are still faced with decisions of how to come up with a good composition, good variation of lights and darks and the shapes and colors, and so forth. When painting outdoors, you HAVE to work fast. The light changes. In two hours (or less) the shadow patterns before you (shadow shapes of trees, shadows on rocks, etc.) will be or have changed, leading to confusion and constantly correcting your painting based on what the "new" view is....and that is a bad thing to do. So, you make decisions quicker, you paint faster and with more purpose, and you don't worry about detail. These are good things. Another thing you have to make decisions on outside is "what elements in nature need to be eliminated and what needs to be added to make a good picture?" In this painting, I added more trees because only one tree on the point wasn't enough of a shape, and only one looked like an arrow that pointed your eye right out of the painting.
I just finished reading a book by a very successful oil painter, Kevin MacPherson, and he says that realistically, less than 50% of your plein air paintings turn out to be a great, finished or framable paintings. But they do teach you a lot and they make good references for studio work.
The painting above is one I did at Lake Tahoe. It is the first time I tried a 6 x 6 panel and I was very happy with it. This painting was done in one hour. It helps that it is a familiar place I've painted before. I also enjoyed using my new oil painting set-up I bought while I was in Newport Beach. It is one of the smallest and lightest set ups available out there. It comes with a small, light tripod and carry case, a panel and palette holder, a brush holder and a neat view finder. I was able to put it all and my paints and stuff in my backpack. This gives me the flexibility to hike farther than the parking lot and have more views to choose from, and NOT get sore muscles and aches from lugging heavy stuff!
|Oil set-up from Artworkessentials.com|