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Plein Air Painting at Eden Gardens State Park

Oil painting of two palm trees at Eden Gardens State ParkIt was a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively, to get outdoors and paint again.  I’ve been spending most of my free time at my office for my regular job, managing my swimming pool service business, and have not been able to paint for more than 2 weeks.  My best friend came to paint too, so I am posting her finished painting as well. We were meeting at Eden Gardens State Park to paint with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters.

Tucker Bayou, by Leslie Kolovich, oil painting on canvas panel, 10x8  (Use contact form if interested in purchase.)
Tucker Bayou, by Leslie Kolovich, oil painting on canvas panel, 10×8
(Use contact form if interested in purchase.)

The day seemed like it would be sunny but as the morning progressed, the sky grew hazy, so that there was no direct sunlight, unfortunately. But I had already picked out my subject, a pair of palm trees, which I knew would challenge me.  The trick is to paint shapes, not things, so I tried to simplify the fronds into triangular shapes, but my habit kept me painting the individual sprays of leaves.  I would catch myself doing that, and make myself paint away the detail, and then catch myself painting the individual leaves again. By the end of the morning, my painting reached the impression I wanted to convey.

My friend Leslie Kolovich painted the open water of Tucker Bayou looking towards the entrance to the Choctawhatchee Bay.  This is only her 2nd plein air painting. It’s fun to look at the process through the eyes of a new painter.

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Reconnaissance for Plein Air Painting

Photograph of hibiscus at Oyster Lake in Santa Rosa Beach, FL
2014-0803 Hibiscus at Oyster Lake (iPhoto)

Today I loaded my painting backpack into my pickup before daylight, had my coffee, checked the news, and then started driving to my intended painting location when raindrops started falling on my windshield.  I prefer fair-weather painting, and even better, I much prefer sunny days. So today I changed my plans, and instead, scouted a new location. There used to be a causeway over Oyster Lake, one of the rare coastal dune lakes found here. It regularly used to flood, and it prevented free flow from the marshy headwaters. So the county removed and replaced the causeway with a footbridge, and the view of the shallow marsh from the footbridge is unbeatable. I took a few photos, with plans of returning.

A good plein air painter can find something interesting and beautiful in just about anything he or she looks at, but it’s nice to paint things other people instantly find beautiful too, at least if I want to sell my work. So I always have an eye out for typically beautiful landscape scenery. This location was the mother lode. I took shots from several different viewpoint, a few in black-and-white to make note of the values that the camera “saw”. I make note of that because the camera never sees things the way a person does, but it “takes good notes” when I am in a hurry. I rarely return to the studio to paint, prefer the immediacy of plein air painting.Taking photos merely helps me remember places I want to go back to.

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