I have hired Saramae Dalferes to help me take the fast track in my transition to becoming a full-time artist at least two days a week by the end of the year. Saramaeis a Nationally Certified Counselor, Mentor, and Personal Coach. I told Saramae this week that I was going to set up a challenge for myself at the weekly plein air outing of the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters. My plan was to paint using only one single brush for all parts of the painting, so that I would paint faster and more loosely.
Once you tell your coach that you are going to do something, there is no going back. So today at the plein air outing, I chose a #8 bright, a brush which is approximately 1/2″ wide, with stiff bristles that are about 5/8″ long.
Our location was an exquisite house with beautiful gardens. After walking the grounds, I opted to paint the flower of a coral bean plant that I found in an ungroomed part of the backyard. I choose a smaller canvas panel, 6″ x 6″, unsure whether I would just be making a huge mess by using only one size brush. To my surprise, I finished the painting in just one hour. I had time to paint another!
For my second painting, I chose the house itself, which had a turret and a roofline with many planes. I struggled with the perspective of the structure. But while I was painting, I found I was less concerned with accurate perspective, and more concerned with the general “feel” of the place. I was moderately successful, especially considering that I was still using only the #8 Bright. The roof angle is a little confusing in my painting, and I did not correct it when I noticed, preferring to focus on color and light and shadow.
At the critique afterwards, Sue Carol Knight Woodley mentioned that towards the end of her painting, she was thinking about the elements and principles of art, particularly the elements of line, form color, and texture. I’ve focussed on the elements (7 in my book: line, shape, size, position, color, texture, density) and principles of design (balance, rhythm, and harmony) when figure drawing, but I confess, much of my plein air effort is simply trying to figure out what colors to mix together to get the color I am seeing, and then trying to figure out what shapes to make with that color.
While painting the house, I came to have an even greater appreciation for the skill of artists such as Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. I regret that the photograph at right does not show the dark blue-green of the roof shingles. The more I paint, the more I am noticing that the camera rarely captures color accurately.
Most of my paintings and images are available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot