| 02 November, 2014 00:17
I took a step outside my comfort zone a couple of weeks ago and joined a group of pastelists on a plein air adventure, on the Texas coast at Matagorda, where we found lovely dunes and sea grasses. We first set up at Palacios, but the weather took a turn for the worse. Pastels will be ruined by rain, so we packed up and moved on to a sunny location. The shrimp boats will be there another day in Palacios.
I have painted many times en plein air, but always in oil. Well, once in watercolor, but usually I paint with oils. I was interested in trying to paint outdoors with pastels. How many colors does one need? How difficult are they to transport? Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find they were very easy to work with outdoors. I was not happy, however, with limiting my palette. A limited palette works well in oil because you can mix whatever color you want if you start with the correct primaries. You simply cannot take all the pastel colors you will need. And setting up on the beach in a brisk breeze, while very pleasant, presents distinct problems for the painter. Pastel paper is virtually weightless, and mounted to foamcore it's still pretty much weightless. It is clipped to the easel while painting, but transporting the finished piece to its protected carrier can be tricky in wind.
I was not unhappy with the resulting painting. Bear in mind, it's a color study, not a finished studio piece. All in all, the experience was fun, and one I'll definitely repeat. Stay tuned.
| 07 February, 2012 19:17
Today was the second day of a 2-day workshop with Texas impressionist landscapt artist LaNell Arndt. It was exhausting, but well worth the effort. Posted here is my day 2 painting. Yesterday's painting wasn't nearly as successful as this one. I was fairly pleased with today's painting, even though there are some things that still need to be fixed. I think it has a real feel of central Texas landscapes. I will make some adjustments before I call it finished.
There were eight of us in the workshop, and LaNell gave us each plenty of one-on-one time, as well as doing some informative lectures, discussions and critiques. We were all outside of our comfort zone, but I think each of us ended up with some satisfactory paintings and a lot of new techniques to work on. I'm tired, but it's a happy tired.
I've met some wonderful artists doing plein-air painting and taking workshops. I hope to be able to count them among my friends in the future. My experience with each one has added to my painting in some way . From some I have gleaned tons of knowledge, from others I may have taken away just something small. But I'm grateful to all of them, and I hope what I am learning will begin to gel my own style. I'm still experimenting, but I think I'm getting closer to what is going to be my own recognizable style of painting. At least I hope so!
Everyone needs to keep learning and keep growing. I never want to stagnate, and I always want to push the envelope. I want to push myself to get better, but I do want to develop a recognizable style - something that people will know is mine the minute they look at it.
| 16 January, 2012 14:22
I have been delinquent in posting this painting. Got so busy with the holidays, etc. I didn't post it in my gallery of oil paintings because it already has a home in Boulder. And its owners are very happy with it. I was pleased with the results of my efforts, although it's difficult to do justice to the beauty of the area. These rock formations set a back-drop for Chatauqua Park just outside the city of Boulder. They are awesome to behold. And I visited the area on one of the most perfect days. I would have loved to have painted this en plein air, but I had to settle for taking lots of photos and working in the studio. The canvas is a bit large to paint alla prima; it took several studio sessions to complete. I hope you enjoy viewing it. I know I enjoyed being there, and I enjoyed painting it!
| 09 November, 2011 16:47
Just came off a weekend workshop with the remarkableTexas still life artist Qiang Huang. Two awesome days of instruction from one of the best there is! It was a little daunting, and after the first day I was really down on myselt. I won't share the painting I produced in our afternoon session. I was frustrated by my inability to apply the lessons imparted in the morning session, and was asking myself what I thought I was doing representing myself as an artist. But I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and showed up for day two, eager once again to learn what it is about Qiang's techniques that sets his work apart from the rest.
We attended the lecture and presentation, then watched another demo. He is amazing to watch. His strokes are very well planned and deliberate. When he applies the paint, he knows it will be right and he doesn't disturb it once it's down. His paint application is thick and generous. I hope someday to have his confidence. I'm posting my day two still life study here, even though it has many problems, not the least of which are flaws in the composition. I would have arranged the objects differently from my viewpoint, but there were three of us painting at each station, which meant we all had a different view of the set-up we eventually arrived at. And I must remind myself that it is a learning tool, not a painting for exhibiting or sale.
If you ever get a chance to take a workshop or attend a demo by Qiang Huang, I highly recommend it. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met, he is humble, he is an excellent teacher, and he is an awesome painter. You can check out his website to see his paintings - still life, plein air and portraits. they're all wonderful.
| 20 October, 2011 19:09
Made another plein air painting trip today. Actually, it was more of an "outing" than a trip. Brazos Bend State Park is less than thirty minutes from home, and it was such a beautiful, cool fall morning - it seemed the perfect opportunity for a little outdoor painting. Spent more time walking around the lakes, looking for alligators. All we saw were alligator noses and eyes. No one was out soaking up the sun! We did eventually see one swimming leisurely through the duck weed. We were told there was some early fall color due to the drought. Not so. The lakes were all very low, and totally covered with duck weed, and the lily pads were turning brown. But it was a lovely day for a walk in the park, and we did set up to paint near the fishing pier on Elm Lake for about an hour.
You can see from my little painting of Elm Lake posted here, it looks more like spring than fall. Plenty of green everywhere.
We plan to try again next month. Perhaps there will be some more fall colors.
| 06 October, 2011 00:22
Last week I tried my hand at Plein Air painting for the first time, in the Grand Tetons. Never been to Wyoming or Idaho before, and never trekked anywhere other than another studio or a street fair with my easel, paints and brushes. It was quite an experience! I came home with 9 paintings - well, studies, really - and over 1000 photos of mountains, ranches, trees, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and wildlife. Enough studio painting material to last a while, I think.
My first attempts at plein air definitely leave a lot to be desired. It is truly overwhelming to be out in nature, in perfect weather, beautiful panoramas spread out for miles before you, and you must limit your focus and create a balanced composition on a tiny 6" x 8" panel, or an 8" x 10" or 9" x 12". It's easy to get distracted and lose focus. I was using a view-finder, and kept re-checking my composition, but still I would get lost in details. I wasn't even supposed to be putting in details! I'm posting three of my favorites below.
This one was one of the first - it's the Bullfrog Pond in the Gros Ventre area.
This is my impression of the water at a bend in the Snake River.
And this one is a sunset at Schwabacher Landing.
I'm looking forward to my next Plein Air experience. Perhaps right here in Texas where I can drive my gear to my painting location. It was a bit of a challenge packing oil painting gear to fly. But I wouldn't have missed the experience in the Tetons. The smarter artists in the group mailed their paints, etc. to our location and back home. No worries about which piece of luggage you packed which supplies in. And no worries about overweight luggage.