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Friday, February 27, 2015

Don't Toss that Plein Air Painting!

'Inspiration'                 11x14                pastel                 ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting here $165

Spring is coming! It may be hard to believe as many of us are still buried in snow but it is coming. With spring comes the itch to get outside and paint. Maybe you are already a dedicated year round plein air painter. Or maybe like me you are an occasional plein air painter. Maybe you will try it for the first time. I have a thought for all of us who will choose to brave the elements and paint outside this year.

Don't throw away your plein air paintings! Learn from them instead. Think of your paintings as homework.

Often our plein air efforts don't please us. It isn't easy. We have to drag our equipment around, set it up and find something to paint all while dealing with sun, wind, hot, cold, bugs.... It can be overwhelming. There are so many choices. We often put pressure on ourselves to do a good painting. So when we struggle it is frustrating.

my original plein air study
When I paint outside I have a different set of expectations. I don't plan on painting a masterpiece or even something frame worthy.  Instead I look at my paintings as my homework. They are exercises. Simple studies that I can learn from and use back in the studio.

The most important lesson I usually learn from my studies is how to see the true colors of the landscape. Photos don't always capture the subtleties of the true colors. Take a look at the painting above. It is one of my plein air studies. I have photos of this same place and they are dull compared to the colors I saw while painting on location. I used the study to paint a larger piece in the studio. It is much more authentic than any photo reference.

So get out there and paint this year.....Nature is your classroom and your paintings are your homework!


robertsloan2art said...

Yes! Plein air paintings as references are very cool. I have one that's essentially unfinished. I have photos of the location but the painting gave me things about it that I never would have seen otherwise. Half an hour more at the location and I'd have had a nice small painting too.

That's the other thing. It's easier to work small for plein air, so I can finish in time. Generally they turn out well, with a certain liveliness about them that's there even if they were rushed. If I managed to finish it during the time, it'll come out well enough to hang.

Yours sure did. I like both the plein air and the studio painting you did from it. But like a good photo, the same plein air can lead to more than one painting sometimes.

Ah, if I had my health I would be doing plein air all year round. The climate here would allow it for most people. Didn't get any snow but the spring is definitely coming, seeing different trees and plants start to bloom!

Carmen Beecher said...

I saw the title in Daily Painters and it led me to read the comments in your blog. I absolutely love the painting, and you are so right about the colors.