Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Going Plein Air

I have worked primarily as a studio artist for quite a few years and I've been toying with the idea of painting on location for some time. I am a landscape painter so it seems like a natural thing for me to want to do. I'll have to admit that I have gotten quite cozy working in my studio over the years where I have more control over the environment and work at a slower pace. My references have been quick sketches or photos that have frozen the moment and the lighting.

My first challenge was working out the logisitics of working on location. How do I pack and move everything as efficiently as possible and am I prepared for the challenges of the ever changing elements? How do I complete a painting in one session when I normally work on them over a period of time where I have more time to work out decisions?

I did a few practice sessions in my own backyard and practiced packing and unpacking, setting up and taking down,working nonstop in one location while the light and shadows moved around my subject. I definitely had to work faster with not much time for second guessing. I was more commited to every mark I made and there was a noticeable change to the energy of my painting. Time flew by and I never put my brush down. It was an exhilirating experience and after my first session I knew I was hooked.

I have been done a few paint outs since then (about 2 weeks total now) and I am still working out the challenges of packing around my stuff and how to work with more effficiency. I don't want to spend much money so I am figuring out more creative and innovative solutions for my outdoor painting gear.

Today I entered a plein air "paint out" event at a nearby arboretum. There were about a dozen other artists there and they have definitely been doing this long than me. It was good to observe how the others approached the field, the type of gear and set up that they had and to see what could be accomplished in a very short amount of time. I did well for myself and was pleased with my own work but I have a ways to go. I know that this will be something that gets better with experience so I'll just have to keep up with my plein air sessions and see where they take me.

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