Monday, May 30, 2011

First Plein Air Painting Day of 2011

This is my first plein air painting of 2011. It's been a long year since I did this, and not only was I very rusty, but I'd forgotten just how challenging painting outdoors is. But first, what a beautiful day it was! My painting buddy Sharon Churchill and I headed to one of our favourite locations - Glencoe Cove. It was the first warm, sunny weekend since the end of September 2010!! If you live in the Pacific Northwest you know that I'm only joking a little bit. In any case we had a glorious day, and some wonderful visitors, and below are some photos of our afternoon.

This cat must belong to an artist. He was so friendly, rubbing up against our legs, then he stretched out on the rocks and watched us for a while.

We were painting away and suddenly this beautiful little deer, came walking down the beach. How great is that?

The deer left the beach, then suddenly she was right beside us, checking us out from between the wild flowers, but by the time I picked up my camera, she had started to walk off.

Sharon with her new plein air painting set up. This was the first day she used her new painting umbrella. (I was very envious).

Sharon's painting was far superiour to mine.....but then I didn't have an umbrella! :-)

Plein air painting really is difficult. But although my painting was seriously lame, I did have a wonderful day and am excited to get out there again.

Here are some things that I should have been thinking about, but was distracted by all the natural beauty.
  • First off I needed to simplify the scene. In my desire to have a foreground, midground and background, I ended up with a bit too much going on.
  • I had a real problem with values. I don't know if it was because it was so bright, but when I got home and looked at my painting, I had made everything too dark. So this lame painting has actually been touched up a bit. In Michael Albala's book Landscape Painting, he states that "Ultimately, judging values is not a matching exercise between subject and painting; it is a comparative exercise among the values within the painting itself."
  • The light kept changing quickly, and I got drawn into changing the water over and over again, even though I know not to. I was sort of caught up in the moment and not really planning the painting all that well. Albala recommends that "plein air painters take their time. A painting that is incomplete but well thought out and organized is ultimately superior to something that is "finished" but rushed and unrealized. An unfinished painting can easily be completed indoors because it has a solid foundation." I think that's a very relevant comment. So for next time, I'll approach it in a more relaxed and thoughtful manner, simplify, plan my composition with simplicity in mind, and make a comparison of my values within the painting. And I'll try not to be so distracted by all that natural beauty!



  1. What a wonderful day, to go painting with a friend. I'm sure her umbrella caused her painting to be superior. She just had better equipment! Your photos of all the distractions are great!

  2. Je vous envie pour ce moment partagé... J'aime beaucoup le tableau de votre première sortie.
    Il ne doit pas être simple effectivement de peindre dehors... Il doit falloir aller vite et à l'essentiel. Dur challenge!
    En ce qui me concerne, le plaisir de peindre dehors est un ravissement. Seulement, je peux prendre mon temps puisque je ne peins que ce que j'imagine, mais la nature, le soleil, la lumière ont une influence sur mon tableau...
    j'adore la visite furtive de vos animaux...
    Bisous à vous ma chère Claire et un grand merci pour votre gentil mail.

  3. Thanks very much for your wonderful comments Virginia and Martine. And Martine good luck with your upcoming show. I'm sure all of your blogging buddies from around the world would love to be at the opening.

  4. Hello Claire,
    Very beautiful efects!
    Talent, art, colors...

  5. Thanks Antonio, that's a very generous comment on this one! :-)

  6. I love this painting Claire! Wonderful reflections on the water..Plein air is definitely for you!!