Monday, June 23, 2008

Painting Camp

Tomorrow will be my second landscape painting class. It's my first time with plein air, and only my second class with oil painting - but that was studio painting. During our introduction to this class, my teacher was very clear that this is work, not the idealised image of relaxing while painting. After my first day last Thursday, I can see why he said that. First off, we were warned to wear long pants to defend against possible snakes and ticks. Unfortunately the temperature rose to 97 degrees by noon, and there was not much shade to be found. This impedes your focus a lot. There's also a lot of equipment involved, you have to be self-sufficient, and you're dealing with toxic materials. It feels a lot like camping, actually, without the s'mores and campfires.

The hard part, once you're all set up, is that you have a very limited amount of time to get the gist of the space. I tend to work detailed, so this is a big challenge for me. This week we'll be at the same location for 2 days (each class is 5 1/2 hours), so we can either do 2 separate paintings, or work on the same one. There's no guarantee that the light and environment will look the same for both days, though. I figure I'll play it by ear and see what speaks to me. I just checked the weather forecast, and it's only supposed to get up to 80 degrees tomorrow, so the weather should not be as much of a hindrance.

Here's my painting from the first class (sorry for the photo - the paint is still drying, and therefore reflects more than it should, so the colors are a bit off). I definitely would not call it finished, especially after only working on it for 3 1/2 hours, but it's as finished as it's going to get. Considering the time limit, never working outdoors before, and not having painted for 6 months, I'm pretty pleased with what came out. Working small helps too - this is a 9x12" canvas; normally I work with an 18x24". I think I'll learn a lot in this class, and think this is something I'll be able to do after this class as well. There are some beautiful places around our house that I would love to try my hand at capturing in paint.


Clau said...

I like the gradations of light, especially in the grassy field in the background.

I used to take a watercolor class a few years ago. I really liked it. I could spend hours doing it, but the biggest waste of class time was the teacher making us all stop and watch her paint.

Chelc said...

Thanks for the comments, Clau. I haven't tried watercolor yet, but I have a friend who loves it, especially for landscapes. Nice thing about oil is that you can cover up your mistakes! Watercolors don't give you that luxury.

Our instructor takes time to do demo's, but I like to see how he tackles the landscapes. He doesn't do it every class, which is nice. Sometimes you just feel like getting to it!


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