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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Plein Air Tip #5 How To Find your Subject

'Azalea Path' 8x10 plein air pastel ©Karen Margulis
Purchase this painting $125 here

Plein air painting can be overwhelming. There is so much to paint. Your senses are bombarded. How do you narrow your focus and choose your subject? I always like to set my gear down, take a deep breath and walk around scouting out possibilities. I like to take a lot of photos for future references and it also lets me casually scan the surroundings to see what strikes me. If something looks promising I will usually note it, walk a bit more just to make sure. Most of the time I will return to that first spot but I now have some great reference material.
After choosing the spot...what's next? Narrow it down and decide on your composition.
My painting on location at Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Tools for finding your composition

There are many tools available for help with composition. I have them all! I never remember to use them. But looking at the scene can be confusing. How do you remember where your composition starts and ends? What I like to do is a quick thumbnail and make notes...such as 'begin at the crocked tree and end at the red bush' . To help me I rely on my photos. I always have my camera with me so I take a photo and look at the screen to help me do the thumbnail

If you don't carry a camera then snap a photo on your phone! Now look at your photos to help you pick your composition! High tech plein air at it's finest.


Maria Hock said...

great tips...looking at the whole scene can be confusing! Love the colors...

robertsloan2art said...

Great article. I enjoyed this, especially the beautiful example of your painting and a photo of the area that inspired it. The way you simplified that patch of azaleas and trees is spectacular.

Today I'm working on developing a simple composition from a very big complex reference, so this came just at the right time for me.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading your blog today after finding your beautiful work on daily painters. All of your tips were so helpful and I hope to visit lost more int he future. Thank you for being so generous in helping aspiring artists.

Karen said...

Thank you all for sharing your comments. I love to read what you are saying and I appreciate you visiting my blog!