Posts Tagged ‘plein air painting’

2015-A year in review

January 3, 2016
Plein air on Eagle Cliff Mountain

Painting on Eagle Cliff Mountain

 

 

Looking back on 2015, I have to say I was very blessed.  I took a few risks, was pleasantly surprised, and grew artistically in the process.

I participated in my first (and second) plein air events.  Both events were at the same location, Steelville MO.  I decided to ignore my fears, schedule some time away from my job and go for it.  It was a labor of love.  I was thoroughly exhausted and creatively spent at the end of the day.  These events are not easy despite how some artists make it look!  The first day I was so exhausted and frustrated with my performance that I was second guessing my decision. I told myself going in, I want to produce a painting to turn in each day/event and I want it to be something that I’m not totally disappointed in.  I wanted it to be something that I felt was a true representation of my work.  The first day, I struggled with finding a composition and drawing, getting true color down, and dodging rain showers.  In the last hour before time to check in, I painting a quick little painting.  It wasn’t my best work but I did feel it restored a bit of faith in myself.  I did go on to complete the event.  I turned in a painting a day, each day for 5 days plus a sunset paint and a nocturne.  I ended up painting over 15 paintings to display and sell at the final sale and gallery display!  I could see a change in my work each day and by the end of the event felt really good about my progress and accomplishment.  I sold several paintings and even won an honorable mention!  As a result of this event, I also met some amazing new artist friends; one of whom wrote an article that was published on the Plein Air Magazine’s online magazine where they used some of my location photos along with a photo of my painting in progress.  That was quite a feather in my cap!  Thank you again Marcia!

I went back to Steelville in the fall and participated in their fall paint out.  Again, I told myself I will paint in each event and turn something in for each one; the themes were earth, air, water, and fire.  Again, I painted multiple paintings each day….and when the event was over, I was ecstatic to have made a few sales and lo and behold, walk away with one of the days’ purchase awards!  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather!

Early on in the year, I signed up for an account on a daily painting site (although, I still do not paint daily, I am painting A LOT more).  It is safe to say that I’ve produced more paintings this year than several years combined in the past.  I signed up for this site as a place to display my “painting a day for a month” paintings.  Each February for the past few years, I do a “painting a day for a month” challenge to myself.  This year, I painted small, 5×7 inch value studies.  These were a way for me to focus on drawing and values.  This is a wonderful and very beneficial exercise for me.  Again, I saw a real improvement in my work and as an added bonus, I’ve made many sales and met new, wonderful, collectors/friends through these sales.  I’ve shipped art to several new states that I hadn’t sold in before and am up to 18 states on my “sellers list”!  Woo Hoo–I’m going for all 50….it’s on my bucket list! LOL

I participated in a few juried shows with our local art club, one being the annual landscape show.  I am honored to have taken second place in this show.  Quite an accomplishment after seeing the caliber of work in the show and knowing the artist who received first–I have long admired his work and really look up to him and value his critiques and advice.

I started painting en plein air (or on location) at least once per week unless I was away from home or until daylight savings time ended and I was getting off of work at my “day job” in the dark.  I’ve sold many of these paintings via the Daily Paintworks site, so, not only is it great practice but I’ve been able to continue paying for my supplies and gas to locations.  Yay, win/win!  Plein air painting has taken me to some amazing painting locations this year.  I’ve painted inside a cave, in the flint hills of Kansas, standing in a river, and even painted on the side of a mountain!  Not sure how I will top those in 2016!

I took a leap and applied to my first artist-in-residence program.  The jury is still out on whether I made the cut or not…..hopefully I will have great news to report in April of 2016!

I also put myself out there and applied to a couple of national shows/events.  I was not accepted but, it is still an accomplishment to go through the application process and put my work out there with the “big dogs” and be judged alongside them.  Who knows, with continued growth and persistence, maybe one day it will pay off.

There you have it, some of my artistic highlights for 2015….here’s to seeing what 2016 holds.  Stay tuned……

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Painting in a cave

June 24, 2015

Painting in a cave!!??!!

You just never know where a plein air painter may turn up; one of the local parks, a sidewalk on Main Street, parked along a back road, or even In a cow pasture …….but in a cave???  Yep, they’ve even been known to turn up in a cave too!

I, along with some of my fellow plein air painters, recently had an awesome opportunity to set up and paint in a cave, Onondaga Cave to be exact.  This location was listed on our schedule to paint during the recent Steelville Plein Air Event.  When I noticed the location on the list, I just assumed it meant that we would be painting around the Onondaga Cave State Park grounds.  That was, until I received an email from the event organizers asking for confirmation of how many painters wanted to paint inside the cave.  “Wait, what??  We’re going to be allowed to paint inside the cave???  Count me in!  How many times will you be allowed to paint in a cave??!!? “   I like to think of myself as more of an adventurous plein air painter.  I like to get off the beaten path, so, this was definitely a must!

There was a brief list of rules, one of the most important being necessary steps to protect the cave by not touching any of the formations, putting a drop cloth under our equipment and not spilling any fluids or paint while in there.  Pack out everything you packed in (standard trail ethics).  Dress in layers because the “cave weather” would be cold and damp.  Try to leave room or step out of the way when tours or other visitors came through.  And finally, make sure we were escorted in and accounted for throughout the day.

This cave is a state run/commercial cave so, there were certain amenities such as; stairs and walkways to set up on, limited lighting, and guides to help out if needed.  With that said, it was still a plein air adventure!  The limited lighting was primarily on some of the cave features themselves and along parts of the walkway so, it was up to the painters to figure out how to see their palette and surface well enough to actually paint something.  In some parts of the cave, painters were occasionally dripped on or even experienced “full-on” rain throughout the day as ground water seeped in.  Everything ended up with varying degrees of dampness and depending on your medium…..it potentially wreaked havoc on your finished painting.  There were also the temperatures to deal with.  Since I am a painter that prefers the cold temps over the heat any day, I thought the cave temperatures were fantastic painting temps., especially since it was very hot and humid above ground.  However, I will admit, towards the end of my last painting, I did notice that I could see my own breathe and it was only after I started the hike out of the cave that I realized my nose was rather cold.  Lastly, the backpacking…..everything had to be packed in and depending on the location you chose, it was an uphill hike.

No worries, by the time I reached the spot in the cave that “spoke” to me, I paused and caught my breath, unpacked and set up…..I thought to myself again, “How lucky I am to get this opportunity.  The time, out-of breath, the dampness, it is all worth it!”  I immediately got to work and painted all day, only stopping once for a quick break.  I painted three paintings; one 11”x14”, one 8”x10”, and one 6”x8” because I had decided I was going to make the most of this opportunity and paint as long as they allowed us to be there.

My paintings aren’t necessarily masterpieces but, how often do you get a painting that was painted entirely on location, underground, in a cave?!?  It was such a peaceful experience, almost meditative that each time I look at one of my paintings; I’m taken back to that peace.  Just the soft light of the cave’s  limited cave lighting, my book lights illuminating my easel, the focus of applying paint onto canvas, and the soft drips of new cave formations in the making….just enough to break the silence……total painting zen.

Another fellow painter/friend wrote a fantastic article; “Plein Air Goes Underground”, on the experience of painting in the cave and interviewed several of the other artists.  I suggest you give it a read…..she is a bit of a better writer than yours truly…..you’ll be glad you checked it out!  Here’s the link:  http://www.marciawillman.com/

Painting snow, en plein air

March 21, 2015

Plein air painting, is a term used to describe a painting done outside/on location rather than in a studio. The term comes from the French en plein air, meaning ‘in the open air’.

So, I’ve dabbled with plein air painting on and off for the past few years.  It wasn’t until recently, probably within the last two years, that I started painting en plein air on a regular basis and making more of a “serious” effort towards being a better plein air painter.

The benefits of painting en plein air, finally seeped through that hard head of mine.  I’m seeing how this is all intertwined and helping to make me a better painter in general.  The benefits of being there, feeling the elements, seeing the color, seeing the way light plays on everything, seeing the form and making quick decisions on drawing, studying value, color, and composition…..I get it….these are all necessities for a good painter.  Painting en plein air forces you to make decisions and go with them.  I feel like it makes you really study your subject…..really open your eyes and see.  Because of that, I notice that I pay a lot more attention to subtle color changes and how colors relate to each other.  I started paying more attention to colors in shadow and reflected color.  I have noticed that I have started finding myself looking at things during my daily wanderings and thinking to myself, “how I would mix that particular color?”.  Hmmm, wonder if other artists find themselves doing that?  I’m sure they do….yeah, that has to be a creative brain thing…….  ummm, right?

Oh, and hey, by the way, snow is really all white, right?  I finally had a chance to get outdoors and paint snow en plein air.  Unfortunately, every chance I got to get out and paint it, it was on an overcast day and while the fluffy stuff was still falling.  I tell you this because that day, snow definitely wasn’t just white.  I found grey and blue and in some cases purples in the snow (we won’t talk about the brown and yellow snow that I found in horse pen).  I also found that laying straight titanium white down just didn’t get that “snow” look that I was looking for.  I always mixed in one of the above colors or lemon yellow…..yes, a yellow.  I found by doing this, I was able to get more of the true look I was seeing in front of me.  I found that I was able to give more form to my snow.  After all, it did have shadow, mid-tones, and highlights (not much since it was overcast) but, it had “shape”.  This “shape” makes it more believable.  For example, I had to make it look like “a blanket” on top of the haybales and “pillows” on top of the old parts tractor.  I probably wouldn’t have noticed all of this had I not set up and painted with my subject in front of me.

So, getting out in the cold, braving the snow, wind, and sleet…..so worth the knowledge.  I will admit, I truly didn’t feel the cold while I was painting except when I started to notice certain colors “froze” quicker than others.  My white was a very, thick, gooey mess by the time I was done.  As I get out and paint in the elements, I’m also learning what types of clothing and supplies are a must and what I can leave at home (remind me to tell you about my alpaca socks….they rock!).  I’m also learning how to lighten my painting pack.  …..watch for future posts on that.

I have a long way to go with this “plein air thing” but I feel like if I learn one thing from each painting or each outing, I’m winning!  Some days I learn I should wipe off the painting and just pack it up for another day but hey, it’s all good.  No worries!

Here are three of the paintings that I did during our snow this year.  I think you can really see the gray and blue in the snow on the “Parts Tractor” painting.  The other two paintings look as though I used straight white but there is a subtle yellow and grey in them.  I think they just look true white because of the colors around them.  It’s all relative, right?  I feel like the form of the snow puffs is more believable in the tractor painting.

En Plein Air

June 19, 2013

To paint en plein air—the French expression for “in the open air”

I recently returned from a plein air painting workshop in the flint hills of Kansas.  Beautiful place!  Kim Casebeer was the instructor.  A fantastic teacher, very knowledgeable, open, and sharing and not to mention a fabulous artist, check her work out online www.kimcasebeer.com !

Upon returning, I’ve been trying to make it a point to get out and continue to practice.  So, I’ve been caught painting a sunrise before work, painting on my lunch break, and trying to sneak out and paint a bit of an evening.  Yep, I’ve been painting En Plein Air……I like to use that term instead of saying I’m painting outdoors or on location because it makes me feel all sophisticated and stuff!

I have to admit there’s something about getting outside, breathing the fresh air, listening to the birds sing, setting up my easel and just sinking into painting.  I say, sinking into it because I really do not pay attention to much else as I’m painting.  Case in point, I was set up and painting the fields on parents’ farm and was pretty pleased with the way things were going and decided to step back to be sure.  I hear movement behind me and hear breathing of something rather large.  Do I turn around?  Sure, why not, I mean, I’m armed with paintbrushes and paper towels!  I turn around to see a big, round, furry…..horse head staring down my process.  My horse, Murdock….aka Doc, decided to stop by and inspect my work.  Shortly thereafter, he was joined by my daughter’s horse Dixie, and my mom’s mighty steed, Ace.  They milled around for a bit, watched, bummed a scratch under the chin and on the rump and then went about their merry way.  Ya can’t get that in a studio!!

Seriously, it’s been challenging to get out and paint but the rewards are great.  I can tell, I’m loosening up in my work, focusing more on drawing, paying more attention to values, trying harder to mix correct color, and working faster.  Look forward to sharing more Plein Air adventures!!

Doc inspecting my workThe finished piece