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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scouting Plein Air

"Mill Corner"

"Mill Tower"

This time of year I love to paint outside, usually before work in the morning. I also enjoy going on scouting trips to find places to paint. I scout at lunch or on days when it's dripping or otherwise not good for painting.

Above are a couple of sketches of today's scouting adventure.

So what do I look for on a scouting trip?
- inspiration - for me that usually comes from composition, shapes and colors that grab me. You might think it would be the light, but since I'm painting when the light is optimal, I am usually scouting when it is not.
- light - I use the compass in the car to tell me where the sun will be at painting time (morning or evening) and try and figure out what will be lit. I do pay attention when the sun's out and I see a wonderfully lit subject, and note it for later.
- location - for before work painting, the location can't be too far off my route to work, there just isn't time for travel.
- parking - I want to park close and well off the road, there's no time for hiking either, and I don't want have to worry about myself or the car being hit.
- quiet - quiet is wonderful, but it doesn't compare with beauty - if I like the scene I tune out the traffic or construction or whatever noise there is.

What do I do at the location I'm scouting?
- take pictures to crop later in putting together the exact scene
- sketch for the same purpose - this is far more useful, working through the composition tells me whether it actually is compelling

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