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Nothing is Simple in Plein Air Painting

Oil painting of blackberry leaves and honeysuckle cascading over a fence at The Boathouse Landing in Valpariaso, FLPainting with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters at The Boathouse Landing in Valparaiso, FL, last Wednesday, I thought I would paint a simple cascade of leaves over a fence. The lush green blackberry leaves were punctuated by a few white and yellow honeysuckle blossoms. I was wishing I could capture the scent along with the shapes and colors.

And then I found out that it wasn’t simple at all. I was very close to my subject, and perhaps that was the challenge — I was seeing too much detail. I’ve heard of people taking off their corrective eyeglasses so that they don’t see as much when they paint — maybe that would have made it easier.

I had toned the canvas with a light wash of pink acrylic paint before I started the oil painting. My purpose was to retain some of the pinks and reds that were in the blackberry stems and branches. Overwhelmed by the large mass of green leaves, I settled for the patterns of light and dark, and painted the honeysuckle flowers towards the end of the session. I scratched out a few of the twigs and branches of the blackberries, revealing the pink canvas. There were bands of light between the fence slats peeking through the leaves in a few places. Later, in the studio, I refined the edges of the spots of light to help the leaves stand in front of them.

It ended up being a great session for challenging myself, topped off by a nice meal and good conversation with fellow painters Dan Robison, Weezie Bancroft Brabner, Patti Overholt.

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4 thoughts on “Nothing is Simple in Plein Air Painting

  1. wow! I know this is much harder than it looks. So much detail would overwhelm me, you did a fantastic job of breaking things down. The values of the leaves are great and the scratches to show the small blackberry vines are brilliant!

  2. Thank you, Robin! Every painting presents new challenges—it never gets old!

  3. I love way you narrow down your subject and the freedom of your brush strokes.

  4. Thank you, Patti! Meeting regularly with all you Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters has really helped me. No doubt the bracelet I got from you also gives me the confidence to paint well, because it looks so good on me! 😉

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