Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why Plein Air?

Because that's where one learns to see...really see. Knowing what lurks in the shadows, what color the leaves reflect, even what the local sounds and smells are makes convincing paintings. Plein air painting for me informs all my other work. What I have learned looking at a mountain range in Arizona helps me paint my own Endless Mountains back in my Pennsylvania studio. Struggling against bright glare to see the waves rolling into the beach in Costa Rica teaches me something about the Susquehanna river. Just dragging an easel out your studio door for a quick warm-up painting will do so much for your skills. Plein air work teaches you to select for subject and compose to your canvas or paper borders. It teaches you to move along, speed it up and keep the energy flowing.

Plein air is the background, the homework for painting from other sources. I see many painters, wasting precious time, using photos when they should be out in the field observing. Once they've done that they may be ready to paint from photos and their own imagination.

Besides it's the most fun you can have and still call it work.

1 comment:

Donna T said...

Hi Rodrica,
I'm a fan of yours down here in MD. I've been plein air pasteling for about a year. I agree with all that you say. Nothing beats getting out there and using all your senses to paint!

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