Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pinting en Plein Aire

I have three unfinished canvases floating around my ‘studio’ – spare bedroom. One I’ve shown here already, the glowing aspen – and it’s still on my easel; I’m waiting for the paint fairy to come in overnight and finish it for me!

A second one I include here today. I painted this one en plein aire while vacationing on an island in Georgian Bay. I hauled all my equipment over rocks and roots and trees. Siddled down the side of a steep incline and perched on the edge of a straight and steep rock outcrop high above the edge of the water to paint this! I have never been successful painting out doors but am so determined to become competent at this approach to painting. For me, photographs never adequately capture the spirit of the scene, they cannot seem to translate the living breath of the landscape one wishes to paint.

I’ve been looking at the work of other plein aire artists. They describe very adequately what they are doing and make it look so simple and they do it ‘simply’ and with confidence. I’ve even attended a week long workshop painting plein aire for six days!. The instructor went away with seven … count them… wonderful canvases. I went away with seven discards!

I read and absorb, make notes to myself on ‘how to paint plein aire’. Ultimately when I arrive on site all is forgotten and I am fighting to capture a moment. Having written this I think I’ve just identified my problem with plein aire…I’m fighting my abilities and painting my fears.

When I am in the sand dunes with the wind blowing, the grasses swaying and the waves rolling I feel a part of the landscape. My very being is consumed with the scene. I do not think of colours, paints, time or place…..just the vision I see and feel. Perhaps that is the first note I need to put on the top of my paint box when painting other than in the dunes …. Relax and enjoy the feeling of the moment and approach with confidence.

My second attempt is another plein aire of a golden autumn.

Maybe someday the two aspen kicking about will become paintings I can say are ‘not too bad’. Looking rather dim right now though; I think they both will wind up discards!

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  1. Nice description of the process, Ruby, and what you go through to achieve it. I could not agree more about a photograph, good art always puts you in the picture. These are not discards, I love them and they too tell a story.

  2. These are beautiful. I love how you did the water and the reflections. How do you get such a clean distinction where the paint for the trees borders the paint for the water? Masking?