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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Plein Air Advice for The Studio Painter

'Beach Dreams'           18x24           pastel          ©Karen Margulis

Paint it in your mind!  

You've heard all the talk about the importance of painting en plein air.  But perhaps  you are a studio painter. Maybe you don't have the gear or the time. Maybe you don't care to deal with the challenges of hauling equipment and battling nature.

I happen to love it but I don't ever seem to make time to get outside to paint. But when I do I see the rewards in my work.  I see colors better. I feel the essence of the place since I am experiencing it with all of my senses and not just looking at a flat photograph.

I had a great question from a student who was painting a beach scene from a photo. "How do I know what colors are in the beach grasses if the photo isn't accurate?" Ahhh, that is where the benefits of painting outside come in. If you were out observing that clump of grass you would see the colors. You would see the way the light changes them and the colors in the shadows.

The time you spend painting outside and gathering information will help you when you are working from photos.

So back to my advice to studio painters. If you have no desire to paint outside at least try to use your time spent outdoors gathering information.

  • Paint things in your mind....this means slow down and carefully observe things when you are outside.  Look at that tree and slowly describe the shapes and the colors and the way it is affected by the light. Look at the sky and the clouds....see the colors and the transition from cool to warm in a blue sky.
  • Sketch....this is even better. Do a quick sketch but write down notes about what you see. The time of day, the colors, the light and shadows....your emotional response.
Now go back to the studio and paint from your sketch and notes. You will be surprised at how much you recall and how authentic your painting will be.  Try it!

I am headed to Florida today for a cruise with family.  I will be bringing pastels but you can be sure I will be doing a lot of 'Mind Painting' as well. 

1 comment:

carol said...

I'm not a painter, but I do know that the beach scene is lovely.