Looking back at some of my plein air sketches, I see how the outdoor light sometimes is so strong it completely washes away the color from a scene. This week I played with one of my studies from a plein air painting workshop taught by Laurel Daniel last April, adding more contrast to the values and more intensity to the colors. The result is a painting that I look at for longer, that entertains me, whereas the first study merely presented the basic idea, easily dismissed. Since my plein air painting is a thin slice of my life, I will be considering this. Experiences which may seem colorless, with very little impact at the time actually actually could be full of significance and ripe for interpretation. But maybe I think too much, ha!
Every painting begins, of course, with the proverbial blank canvas. The elements of composition present a new challenge, every time: line, shape, size, position, color, texture, density. Today I opted to paint at Deer Lake State Park, and my challenge was to capture the intense morning colors of autumn in the dunes fronting the Gulf of Mexico. My best friend and I walked over the long boardwalk to the beach where I left her to her writing. I return to a midpoint on the boardwalk and started setting up only to discover I had left my regular palette and paints in the studio! So back to the parking lot, to get my trusty back-up, my Guerrilla-box, a minimalist plein air kit that goes with me everywhere for that plein air painting that just can’t wait, which holds the 5 colors I consider the minimum – alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium yellow deep, thalo blue, and ultramarine blue, and white of course. I’m counting the walks to the beach and back, and to the parking lot and back, as my exercise for the day! I’ve attached a few photographs to show what the dunes really look like, though the off-and-on cloudiness did not do it justice. The view that I chose was very busy, with goldenrod sprinkling bright yellows through the reds of the grasses. Below is my end result, and under that, a few photos of Deer Lake State Park, on Scenic 30A in Walton County, Florida.
Last weekend I went to Birmingham, Alabama, and tent-camped at Oak Mountain State Park, with two friends. Our intention was to enjoy a weekend of mindfulness and simplicity in preparation for seeing the Dalai Lama at two events on that Sunday. When camping, every task is a bit of a chore, and each chore is less than familiar, so mindfulness is a requirement. We packed our groceries, tents, and art supplies, and off we went. The first night was predicted to be only 45°, so I had packed my quilted overalls and was quite toasty, wool socks inside my trusty Crocs. One of my friends and I went to the lake for our meditation, and we watched the sun come up through the mist rising from the warm water into the chilly air. That’s when my friend Leslie Kolovich said, “Joan, go get your paints!” So I dashed off my impression of the mist before breakfast. I posted my 6 x 8 piece last week, and here it is again, below. I just wanted to share the photograph above, taken by fellow adventurer Pat Cummins, to show what it’s like, painting plein air in 45° weather. I am seated at a picnic table, using my Guerrilla box instead of an easel.