Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From plein air to studio

Russell Millpond
plein air
6"x6" oil on Raymar panel

A task I've assigned myself this winter is to learn how to make compelling paintings from plein air studies. The idea is not to simply take a larger brush and do the same thing bigger, but to make a new painting, expressing my feel for the place in a different way. I took this problem to a class I'm taking with Marais Platais at the Concord Art Association. I painted Russell Millpond in the spring of 2010.

the studio version after an hour or so
16"x16" oil on canvas

So, of course, in the first session, I did exactly what I said I wasn't going to do, and reproduced the smaller painting's version of the big trees on the right.  I took it home, starting wiping away, and tried to remember what Marais had told me. I'm sure he said more and said it better, but this is what sunk in:
- Use both the plein air painting and any reference photos to gather information.
- Remember that for each brush stroke in the small painting, there will be several of different sizes in the larger one.  
- Think of the whole tree in the small painting as the top of the same tree in the larger painting. 
- Don't paint a copy of the reference photo, another thing I wanted to avoid, but zoom in (thank you, ipad) on areas to see patterns and color variations that could be useful in the larger painting. 
I like this result much better than my first attempt.

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