Saturday, April 17, 2010

Now I understand why one should paint plein air


Skaha View
8 x 8
oil on doorskin

Last week I discovered a French plein air easel on sale at my local art shop and since I've been reading about the necessity of getting outside and painting from real life and frustrated with my attempts at landscapes I decided to treat myself to a late birthday present and purchased it. Like a kid with a new toy I made a list, packed my paints, bought a little folding chair and off I went in search of a private location to set up and try plein air painting for the first time. Very shy abouting painting publicly I drove up into the hills overlooking one of our large lakes and rounded the last corner into a parking lot full of cars! Climbing season has begun! I decided to head up the trail anyway and went off a little ways till I had a good view of the lake. Feeling excited but very awkward and full of anticipation I quickly set up, squeezed out paint onto my palette, grabbed a brush and took a big breath and started to paint. Immediately realized I'd forgotten my glasses, had no where to put down my brushes and the wind was not only whipping my hair around my face which didn't matter anyway as I couldn't see but it was also trying to blow my paper palette away. No worries, this was only a trial and after a half hour of loose easy brush strokes I packed up and headed home. The connection I felt with nature being out there with the wind in the trees, the birds singing and the feeling of peace and timelessness has made me want to go back and I look forward to the next adventure. Hopefully I'll be a little more organized next time.

10 comments:

Marie Theron said...

I love the immediacy of this landscape, Barb! It goes faster when you are out there because Nature is so overwhelming and also the light changes too, so that one feels that you must hurry!

Lori Bonanni said...

Hi Barb - great job on the plein air! It's funny that you forgot your glasses - if you read Kevin Macpherson's book he says to paint without your glasses on as it enables you to not see the small details thus simplifying the painting.

Ruth said...

And, I would say that you have done just that as Lori mentions above. Think you found the key to doing landscapes. This is beautiful. You don't have to feel like you can't do landscapes anymore. This is perfect. Love the colors that you use in short bursts here and there. Vibrant and luscious!

Barb Hillier said...

Thank you Marie - there was definitely a feeling of immediacy but oddly time seemed suspended - a strange brew...

Barb Hillier said...

Thank you Lori - I've been painting half blind since losing my real glasses at the Olympics in March and I've noticed an increase in the looseness and painterly effect!

Barb Hillier said...

Thanks Ruth - It was an eye opener to say the least to sit out there and really see the true colors for the first time and having to correct the hues and intensities as I was seeing them and not just painting them as imagined.

James Parker said...

Browsing your past blogs, Barb, I am captivated by your selective use of vibrant color...very appealing. And plein air...I tried my first event this weekend...kind rainy...but I agree with you in that plein air painting contributes to your overall capabilities...once you begin to get the hang of it.

Barb Hillier said...

Thank you so much James. I do love color and my challenge is to get harmony with so much use instead of competition. My plein air experience had me continually calming down the intensity but couldn't resist a few splashes of pure hue!

liz wiltzen said...

LOL - what a great first day out story Barb. Looks like you covered just about all the bases, other than bugs. And what a lovely piece, great use of value and color temperature to suggest aerial perspective, this is a winner. Can't wait to see #100!

Barb Hillier said...

Thanks Liz, fortunately it's too hot and dry here to be buggy - my big fear was the rattlesnakes so I carefully picked my way through the sage!