Thursday, August 22, 2013

Plien Air Painting

Deducing info from minor nuances, in the manner of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's perceptive Sherlock Holmes, is a prime skill for artists.

 "You see, but you do not observe," says Holmes to his sidekick Dr. Watson. 

Looking at the work of many artists, I'm convinced that not a few are on Dr. Watson's side of the office. Not that artists need to inflict every bit of accumulated visual info into their work, but they miss out on one of our top privileges: the art of really seeing.

 Here are three quick exercises that'll heighten your powers:

1. Take a look at that tree over there. It's spring and its foliage is new, feathery and wispy. There's an eagerness in the greens and the soft edges seem to flirt with the sky. Now note the tree is hardly solid--even though you might be inclined to paint it so. Today it's rather a flighty dream, and even though it's full of holes and avoidances, you can feel its roundness. And in spite of all this wisp, how strong the trunk and branches are.

2. Now take a look at those rocks around that small islet. Each one is in the form of an independent brick or a ball, and yet they nestle and cuddle with one another for support. Each has an upper side that reflects the sky and a mysterious dark underside. These rocks have been partners on this islet for so long they have grown toward one another and are blended by their mutual mosses and lichens.

3. Now take a look at that strongly lit nose on that guy over there. Notice how the lit side nicely gradates down into the cheek beside it and forms a fine negative shape that determines the form of his particular nose. Notice the core shadow that runs its length with the colourful penumbra on either side of the shadow. Notice how the cast shadow overruns the details of the nostrils and inner eye. Notice how that nose reddens toward the end, and is topped off with a cool, moist shine. Methinks he may like his brandy. What do you think Watson?

"Holmes serves as an ideal model of how we can learn to see and think better." (Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind; How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Outdoor painting gives artists the opportunity to paint the landscape in an immediate way--from direct observation--responding to changes in light, air quality, weather, and time of day. 

Many advocates and artists who have taken up plein air painting are committed to creating stirring landscapes that are derived solely from nature itself, in an alla prima style (which means producing a painting in one session outdoors).

 But practitioners can also find it useful to work from a variety of sources, including initial pencil sketches, photographs, and research. 

I like to work Alla Prima.

Sketches allow painters to improve an overall design and quickly capture color notes in the landscape. 

One can also use photographs to help design a painting and capture details, though they usually come into play after the artist has left the painting site for the comforts of the studio. 

However, most painters stay away from using photos for color and value indicators. I often refer back to photos to see what I might want to change when I do a larger studio painting from my small Plein Air work.

This painting was done in Glen Arbor Michigan for their plein air event in Aug.

Sail Boats on the Bay
Sail Boats on the Bay, painting by Delilah Smith
About This Painting:
Sail Boats on the Bay
oil painting on panel
Media: oil painting
Size: 10 in X 8 in (25.4 cm X 20.3 cm)
Price: $250 USD
How to Purchase:

Buy this painting on PayPal
Price: $250 USD plus $10 USD s/h


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