Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Plein Air

What you are looking at are my three best paintings from the 3rd Annual Borrego Springs Plein Air Invitational. For those of you who don't speak Art and who haven't read my previous blog posts, Plein Air is French for "Painting Outside."

Which is a great idea...

If you're in France.

Over here it gets hot. Or windy. One or the other. Occasionally both.

But what am I complaining about? I had a great time, met some fantastic artists, learned a lot and I even sold one! (The third one down)

I complain because it's challenging. I guess that's what I'm getting at.

Plein air represents a real struggle for me as a painter. For one thing, there's just the logistical problems of having to pack up all the stuff you need to make a painting and carry it to the place that you want to paint. Acrylic was the first medium I chose to use (the painting on the very top is acrylic). I don't like painting on easels, collapsible ones or otherwise. I prefer painting flat so for the first few days I was going out with a little typing desk and a folding chair. Eventually when I started going out to places where I would have to walk far from my car I abandoned the desk, abandoned the chair and just went out there with a drawing board and a pancho to lay on the ground where I'd sit. After a day of that I realized that a set of pastels and some paper weigh less than an acrylic tray and a jug of water so I switched. The last two paintings are pastels.

The second struggle is the challenge of producing a complete painting in one sitting. Another way to explain this: two hours is about all the time you have from the moment you first set eyes on your subject to the point where you can no longer do any major work on the piece because the light has completely changed. As far as mixing colors and using the paint goes, I have some facility there and I can move pretty quick, but in terms of creating the best composition of what lays before me; in terms of simplifying unessential bits and allowing them to support the essential parts I have room to improve. I made some strides but its still the thing I need the most work on.

So am I going to continue working plein air? I will. Its a great exercise for a painter. Photos are a great tool but they'll limit you if you never go outside and see how the light really behaves. I envision myself continuing to paint outside both for the satisfaction of 'capturing the moment' and also for the sake of doing 'field research' in order to better make paintings in studio.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Music Club: "Down By The River" or "How Many Steel String Sitars Did Stephen Stills Steal?"

Submitted as evidence that for a brief period in 1969, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were the best music group in existence.

An aside to my baby boomer friends... does anyone have a Stephen Stills style pancho they'd be willing to part with?

Call me.