One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
When I lived in California I was lucky enough to take a week-long portrait and figure painting, watercolor workshop from world famous artist Mary Whyte. One afternoon we ventured out of the studio to the beach (we were right on the coast in Crescent City) to take some photos of the model. Let’s face it, you don’t normally come across young women dressed like this strolling the beach.
It was a foggy day and the light was strange. The ocean and the sky was a strange, muted yellow green. I painted it once true to the photo, but after the online course I took this past winter, photos are just a reference and I have broken free from trying to reproduce them—a very big breakthrough for me.
Some people don’t like people in their art; others love the human, lively element people add to a painting. Which do you prefer?
When my friend invited a group of us to go to the sand dunes, I was thinking hiking the dune and some nature trails by Lake Michigan.
As she parked the car I saw one large dune and a public beach. She unloaded a blanket, towel and beach chair and headed for the beach. I was not prepared. I was not dressed for the beach. I did not bring a blanket, towel or chair. Luckily I had a hat, sunscreen, sketchbook and camera.
It was near the end of summer and I then had shoulder surgery, then it was fall and then the holidays, yada yada yada. I have been wanting to paint this beach scene (and others) since last year.
Finally! This little girl gets to go swimming!
I definitely would frame in a floater frame or edge-to-edge frame so nothing gets covered up.
I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.
Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.
Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.
Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.
Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.
“Field of Tulips”, 8×10″ oil, available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/560288
After I took that e-Course in the winter I wanted to make sure I embedded the lessons in my memory, and since the subject matter we painted was basically florals, I painted several more flower still lifes. I’m quite happy with the results.
Then the weather got nice and plein air painting started (painting outdoors) and I was back out in the landscape. I’m always rusty at first and this year was no different. But going out each week helps and I’m getting better.
In the meantime, back in the studio I remembered some photos I took of a house nearby that has it’s whole front yard filled with tulips! Maybe this would be my happy medium. This could be a nice transition between flowers and the landscape. It was very fun to paint.
I am a fair weather painter. I admire those who bundle up in the winter and brave the cold and snow, but for me, the sun and wind and bugs are challenge enough.
I learned to paint “in the open air” while living in California. When I moved back to Michigan I was honestly surprised to find artists painting en plein air.Ha! So we go out together (safer) after being cooped up in our studios all winter to be enthralled, overwhelmed, and challenged by nature.
The first week I came home and immediately wiped off all the paint. The second week was not too bad—won’t win any prizes; probably won’t sell; but is worth studying to see what I learned for next time.
Third week went better. We were serenaded by birds and frogs; there was a creek and a nice breeze. I was happier with the result. Loose, painterly, almost abstract. Available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/557386
This week the group opted to paint in the local town. Just when I was getting back into the landscape (after my flower series) we have buildings! Another learning experience; not a keeper. And so it goes…
If I painted abstracts I might be able to paint several paintings a day out of my head. If I were still painting landscapes it wouldn’t matter if the tree was straight or how long the limb was, I’d be concerned with the horizon line.
But I’m painting a building with straight lines, proportions, perspective, etc. I’m trying to stay loose and not get caught up in the details as I used to when I painted in a photorealistic style. There are cameras and Photoshop for that and I want my painting to look like paint.
I like to listen to the radio when I paint, often NPR. On the weekends they repeat programs, and if they talk about war or beheadings or other ugly topics it is not conducive to the joy of painting. This weekend I was playing a meditative CD with wonderful upbeat music and soothing narration. After painting a window for the 3rd or 4th time I said out loud, “Why do I paint buildings?” The voice on the CD immediately responded, “Because that’s who you are.”
OK then! I’ll just keep painting.
This iconic diner, the Fleetwood Diner, in Lansing, Michigan, is famous for their “Hippie Hash”. Seems like a good name for this painting of the diner.
When I graduated from university I moved to Texas to get away from the cold Michigan winters. After 3 years I moved to California to get away from the hot Texas summers. 23 years later due to emotional circumstances, some insanity I’m sure, and love of family, I moved back to Michigan. I’m lucky. I work at home and don’t have to commute in the snow and cold in the winter.
When I look out my studio window to see what’s going on in the neighborhood I see the dog lovers, dedicated to walking their dogs every day, no matter how cold. The pet guardians are all bundled up, trudging along. Smaller dogs get the benefit of a sweater or coat. One is a runner with a dog that looks happy to be running too. Until the necessary stop comes. I don’t know what they can smell in the snow.
But it’ll be in the 50s this week and the snow is starting to melt. Spring is 10 days away and is oh so anticipated and appreciated in Michigan.
This painting, “Dog Walker” is available, 6×6″ acrylic on panel. If you would like to purchase this painting, please send your bid by email. Starting at $75.00.SOLD
My cousin Elaine posted on Facebook, “Go look at the moon”. I went to look and couldn’t find the moon. Maybe wrong position at my house, maybe clouds. At 4 a.m. my eyes popped open as there was a bright light shinning in them—the moon! Ah, I see Elaine, what you were speaking of, NOW I see it. Oh my!
The same thing happened when there was all the fuss about the Super Moon. The moon that was the brightest moon EVER. Everyone looked for it when they went to bed but it was cloudy. Again at 4 a.m. my eyes popped open and there it was. The clouds were clearing. I got up, got my camera and started shooting. No good from the bedroom window. To my (home) office. No good through the glass; open the sliding glass door. Snapping away, adjusting the settings… THEN I see the (indoor) cat out on the deck!!!
Nice kitty, come back inside kitty kitty, I’m outside coaxing in my pajamas. Got her back in the house, checked on the other cat, took a couple more shots, and went back to bed. Wait…did I see both cats when I got in bed? Back to the deck and there is Leeluu out on the deck! The moon or the cat! Now you see them, now you don’t! One more time I coax her in and finally got to bed.
This painting, “Super Moon” was created from that night. It is 8×8″ acrylic on canvas with metallic and pearlescent paints added. If you would like to purchase this painting, please send your bid by email. Starting at $75.00. End of sale March 8, 2015, 5 p.m. EDST. Terms of sale.
The Orchid Show was lovely; it smelled sooooo good in there. The flowers were gorgeous and their little faces are always so interesting. My two paintings both received ribbons, a 2nd for the large (“All Dressed Up”) and a 3rd for the small (“Secrets”), but I’m not sure of the categories as there were a couple of firsts, seconds, and thirds.
I called the small painting “Secrets” because well, they (the blossoms) just look like they have a secret, don’t they?