Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plein Air Problems

The Lord of the Manor suggested that we drive up into the Sierras Saturday and do a little plein air research and/or painting. It sounded like a great idea to me, so we set off at 6am armed with coffee, folding chairs, the camera, 5 canvases, and all my painting supplies. We drove leisurely along stopping to take pictures of interesting scenes and finally ended up at Bear River Reservoir where we settled on a nice spot in the day use area. We had shade, a picnic table, and gorgeous view and beautiful weather. I sketched a view and started painting, but BIG PROBLEMS! There was a little breeze, and almost before I could get the paint on the canvas it dried. And there was no going back to pick up any previously mixed colors. What a mess. I almost completed one painting, but stopped after an hour and a half. I figured since I had taken a photo of the scene I could finish it later back at the studio.

So I pivoted around about 90 degrees thinking that the canvas would shield my paints from the breeze and started a second painting, but really it was no better. I struggled along for 45 minutes, then finally threw in the towel. What I really needed was oil paints.

We drove up to Silver Lake and had lunch, then continued on to the Hope Valley where we took more photos. That valley is gorgeous with long views of the distant mountains and the Carson River winding through it. It's a popular fishing and hiking spot. In the winter there's cross country skiing, sledding and cozy cabins. In about 2 weeks the trees will start turning; maybe we should go back then and capture those fiery colors.

So Sunday afternoon I found some oil paints and decided to just copy an Impressionist painter to get a feel for the colors and style. And OH MY! what a difference the oil paint made. I was actually able to mix a color and have it be there to use again any time during the session. Here's the painting I made. Nothing great, but still, I felt successful.

Then last night I sketched out a photo I'd taken in China and started painting it. Again, the oils are sooo much better. I'm pretty sure if one isn't painting frantically to avoid drying colors, their work will be much better. I have high hopes for this painting. I'll keep you posted.

No comments: