Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow progress

After 5th session
It turns out that I picked a really difficult subject in this ligularia and the complex background behind it, but I am slowing making progress. Good thing, because the nice days of painting outside are coming to an end soon. The things that make the ligularia a really choice subject are the same things that make it really a bugger to paint—those big, reflective, undulating leaves, with their visible veins. They're a lot like painting drapery, they are so smooth and curvy and show so many different shades and hues of reflected light, and I have pretty much no experience whatsoever painting drapery. But today I felt like I finally found a good mix of colors to use for the background. The painting is a long way from done still—especially the ligularia leaves—but at least I like the mix and general arrangement of colors.

My previous experiences doing plein air painting, before I started painting in my garden, were with groups who would drive somewhere, paint for a few hours, then leave and come home. I wasn't anywhere near good enough nor quick enough to paint anything worth keeping, so it became ultimately something I had no interest in doing. However, being able to go out almost every day to the same spot and work, not have to schlep the larger pieces of equipment, and be able to take some amenities out with me, like my ipod loaded up with great music, is so different it doesn't even seem comparable. I really enjoy my sessions outside. I always give myself the first five minutes or so to relax, settle into the garden, and remember how much I love being outside in it on nice days. That always puts me in a good mood, and then I start looking at the painting, looking for where I can make headway on it that day. Although I never would have tried the ligularia if I had realized how long it was going to take me, at my stage there is no painting that doesn't help my skills, no matter how slow it goes.

As my summer painting winds down to its inevitable end, it seems that I've learned a fair bit about what colors my plants show in outdoor light, and I expect that knowledge to improve my studio painting this winter. I've had so much fun doing this I'm going to really miss it when it gets cold, and I'll really be looking forward to being able to go out again when the weather gets friendly enough next spring or summer.

Clouds #8

This cloud painting I did two days ago. I got a late start and as a result, got to see some sunset hues on parts of the cloud masses.

Outdoor setup

I'm including a photo of my setup, luxurious as it is. The cloth chair with foam padding in the seat and back is one of the most comfortable outdoor chairs I've ever had, and it makes a great painting seat. The purple bucket on the ground is what I use to carry paints, water, brushes and paper towels down from the house. It works great.

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