I've always enjoyed painting. First it was watercolors in High School, then for many years it was Sign Painters One Shot and screen printing ink, then faux painting and craft paints when I had small children. But NOW I want to try plein air painting. I did paint a landscape in oils about 10 years ago, but then we started remodeling the house and that was the end of that. I painted it from a photo in a book about England, and I was pleased with it at the time, but now I can see all kinds of problems with it.
Since I had never taken a painting class at college, I had to start with Beginning Painting. I felt a bit like a Kindergartner the first few classes because he had us working on large pieces of white paper just mixing paints and shading basic shapes, but he has pushed us along fairly quickly and last week we started plein air landscapes.
I walked over to the campus one day to scope out various locations and I took a few photos. Then I came home and painted the landscape you see below. I like some things about it; like the dramatic lighting on the tree trunks, but I still see areas that could use some help. This was a nice location but so far from our classroom that I chose not to use it for my assignment.
Then we started on our landscapes at school and it was a whole different ballgame! Painting en plein air is so much more difficult. First of all the light keeps changing and if you're not extremely careful, you'll be chasing the shadows the whole time. Secondly, you must contend with the sun in your eyes, or on your skin, bugs, passersby, equipment problems, and landscape maintenance issues. One student, upon returning to her spot after painting for two previous sessions, found an entire tree gone! What a learning experience.
Then one evening I tried another small landscape from a photo. This is along the Li River which we visited in 2008. Although it was misty, the colors weren't as flat as I've depicted them here. As you can see I'm still struggling with colors.