Monday, June 15, 2009

Plein Air Paintings from May 2008 - April 2009

Before I start posting the "mini series" I am working on, I'm going to recap the last year, dating back to late May 2008. Here is one painting from that month. This is my boyfriend Ronnie posing next to a river at a park in Ashland City, Tennessee.

In June of that year, I visited Colorado with my family for a couple of weeks. I painted about 10 plein air paintings, and a few of them are posted below. For more details on these paintings, you can visit this link and click the individual thumbnails.

I didn't do any plein air paintings I was happy with until the following spring 2009. After painting in Colorado, Tennessee seemed nearly impossible. I felt that I could "cheat" in Colorado, since there were obvious color differences to deal with, such as the white of  snow peaks and aspen trunks, the soft pastels of extreme distance, vivid blue lakes, and stark bare rock. In Tennessee, I struggled with the subtleties of a green spectrum that was beautiful before my eyes, but muddy and caked up with effort on my canvas. Even the water was green with algae and reflected foliage. I couldn't easily get the vantage points that gave me the soft palette of extreme distance. I relied on sunset lighting to get some rust-colored relief to the sea of green, but even then I seemed to only get harsh, glaring images. When spring came around again, I had my chance to "cheat" again. In mid-March, the pastel flowers and faint, forgiving greens rescued me from my monochrome miasma. 

Here are two of those early spring plein air paintings. They captured the hazy feel of afternoon rays glowing through the spring growth. I painted both of them in my front yard. They're both 8x10 canvases that were painted in about 2 hours.

The colors of early spring are fleeting. Once the season passed, I could have reverted back to my struggle with green overload–but in late April I had the opportunity to study with Jason Saunders. That point in time marks a break with my previous landscape efforts, so I will now end my recap of 2008-2009 plein air. If I'm brave, or in need of some public scorn, I might post some of the more grim-looking paintings from that time period. But for now I will move on with the recap of the last year's highlights.

My next post will be still life from 2008-2009, and after that one of my favorite subjects, figure and portrait. Following the people pictures will be another landscape series: plein air studies from the April workshop. Then I will move on to the process that got me started on this blog: my near-daily series of mini paintings (aka the mini-series). 


  1. Thank you for posting a comment!

    Are you asking if I draw the lines first, before painting? Not exactly; I usually just paint either a monochromatic underpainting or a very loose monochromatic sketch. Sometimes I don't use an underpainting and start out by blocking in the main color shapes.