Media: original watercolor on paper
Image size: approx. 14″x 20″
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As a plein air artist I feel fortunate to always visit such beautiful areas in the world. I conducted a workshop in one of those areas last week: the Santa Ynez valley in California.
Plein air painting is tricky business. You are dealing with a lot of adversity: weather conditions, (i.e. heat, cold, winds etc.) pestering insects and/ or pestering people! Selection of subject matter is even more challenging! What do you paint and how do you make it work? Is there room to set up?
According to Murphy’s law some absolutely crucial fact about the scene you’re painting will change one hundred percent halfway through your painting! Like the horses you’re painting will be moved out of the pen before you can finish them. A bank truck collecting money from an ATM will block your view down the street scene you’re painting and a uniformed guy with heavy artillery is glaring at you. Ahh, what fun…NOT!
While I admit that these things can be disconcerting, there is no better teacher than nature herself! In your studio, you’ll never get a real interaction with the subject matter and staring at a photograph is just not the same thing! I can promise you, if you start painting plein air, your work will improve dramatically! The painting may not be a success every time, but the paintings that do have a beautiful spontaneity and directness about them that you can’t get in the studio. Even if the painting is no good, the studio version you do with the help of your ‘failed attempt’ will come out a lot better, simply because you were actually there! You walked through the place, you were taking everything in with your senses and you painted there and that makes all the difference!