Plein Air Painting Process
I begin my plein air paintings with a quick line drawing, usually in cerulean blue oil paint, to explore compositional possibilities. This takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes. At this stage in the painting’s development I’m thinking of horizon line placement and the interconnection of large shapes and how to integrate spacial relationships between background, middle ground and foreground elements.
The plein air experience initiates the painting process. I may paint outside in one session, weather pending, that lasts 4 to 8 hours. 8 hours is definitely pushing it. At this time I taken in a lot a visual information. I have developed a ‘feel’ for the place and have a solid idea and understanding of what and how I what to express the ‘sense and spirit of place’. The experience I have of place, this includes not only what I see but also what I hear, smell, feel and the people I talk with, all go into the creation of the painting. The final stages of the painting are developed in the studio over a period of time. I have worked on some paintings on and off for years. At this stage I work from memory and rely heavily on intuition. A painting is ‘a work in progress’ until I can’t see anything more I can do to improve it’s expressiveness. Since painting is an ‘art’ the learning process is organic and ongoing. I might think that a painting is done and l’ll put it away for a time then work on other paintings. When I come back to the painting that was ‘done’ I’ve learned things from working on the other paintings that I can incorporate in the the painting that I had at one time thought was finished. For this reason I don’t think a painting is ever completely finished. It is part of a continuum in the creative process and experience.
I continue to refine the relationships between shapes and colors. Organizing, integrating and clarifying the spacial relationships.
I begin to block in the color relationships. I’m thinking of the relationships between light and dark shapes and warm colors (reds, oranges and yellows) and cool colors ( blues, greens). My objective is to create a harmonious holistic image; unity within the variety, variety within the unity.