Adventures in plein air painting

St. Francis pleinair, by frankeber 2012         St. Francis pleineir_detail, by frankeber 2012

I have recently started teaching a plein air watercolor class. Only six people in our group, among them three accomplished plein air painters in other media. You know, the lesser one’s …hahaha…just kidding!

We met in Palos Verdes, a peninsula that juts out into the pacific and divides the South bay from Long Beach. I had a feeling that we’d see a nice, slanted shadow going across the front of St. Francis church and thought it might be a good lesson for a watercolor class: shadows, light within shadows, reflected light..that sort of thing.

Most artists, especially ones coming from other mediums, always try to do too much. It is one of the hardest things to learn in watercolor painting! You cannot work the same way, not even close!
The second hardest thing to let go off, is that you don’t blend colors, they do it themselves on the paper and if you interfere too much, you’ll get streaky and tired looking washes.

Of course, painting directly from the subject can pose a whole different world of problems. It is a bit scary, being out there, all exposed. You get people who watch you, both nice and less favorable comments and your subject matter changes by the minute. But it is also a great teacher, mother nature is!

Speaking of plein air: I am heading to Europe for the entire month of April, doing nothing but painting outside! Next time I post, it will be from Prague or the south of France! Wish me luck and let’s hope the weather will cooperate!

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10 thoughts on “Adventures in plein air painting

  1. Eric

    Hi Frank, I’m happy to have found you’re blog! Really nice work and as someone moving from oils to watercolour, I’m finding your comments especially helpful! I’ll continue to follow along…

    – eric

  2. May

    It is so refreshing to see the artist is in the “sunny mood”, the painting reflects. 🙂
    The light and shadow dance radiates liveliness and energy. So colorful, yet so few colors were used. Your perfect manipulation of tonal value and seemingly simple brush strokes make this painting so fresh and energetic. Beautifully done (especially in plein air)! You must be sure and happy with this one, are you?

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