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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another day, another plein air painting

This week we headed south to a wildlife refuge. I've been there many times with the plein air group, in the past choosing to paint a grassy hill with white oaks. This time, I ventured off towards a beautiful lake, with lovely reflections, and a squawking heron. I wandered that area, shooting multiple photos, with a hazy sun blasting down, no breeze to speak of, and nowhere in the shade to paint from. By the time I returned to get my things at the car, I was overheated, and it was pushing 10:30. If I wanted to show anything at the 12:30 critique session more than just a preliminary sketch, I realized I needed to look for a spot closer to where I was parked.

At 9:00 that morning we had a lesson by one of the plein air artists about what goes into a painting---First there's technique, knowledge of your chosen materials, etc. Secondly design---color choices, composition, and so on. Lastly, which is often forgotten about, there's the need to put the artist into the artwork! What was the artist feeling while they paint? Why did they choose that particular view (and not just because of the lighting, or because it was in the shade!) After this interesting challenge to not just paint what I see, but to paint how I feel and to think about how to put myself into the painting, I stood by the car, hot, hurried, and looked around the headquarters of the wildlife refuge. At once a tall, strong, old, stately locust tree caught my eye. That was what I chose to paint. As I settled in the shade just 4 feet away from the car, I thought of how I felt----HOT! So, as I began to sketch out the tree, I decided to use hot colors to paint this image---and being happy with finding this scene so close by the car & in the shade too, I used colors that felt light and happy to me!

Here's the tree---underneath where we met earlier for the lesson, and at 12:30 for lunch and the critique.

My preliminary sketch on primed, smooth sanded canvas.

The first layers of pastel.

And here's the almost finished painting. Any suggestions? Critiques? Ideas? I have a few things still to do, like refine the foliage a bit more, and work on the shadow side of the tree.

Oh, I haven't forgotten about the poppy from the previous post---I worked on it last Friday, but it's still not quiet finished. I'll post a photo of it when I get it all completed.


m i c h e l l e said...

This is great Jana! I love how you framed the tree just slightly to the left. I love the color palette you used...it smacks of an easy going summer day. The foilage looks so light and feathery and inviting! Keep doin' what you're doin'! :-)

Son of Incogneato said...

It's very nice. My only negative critique is that perhaps you should have given your subject a little more breathing space and not cut off the top.
Otherwise a great tree.