Friday, April 14, 2006
My Kind of Plein Aire
Purple Serenity, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10
I have always liked plein air paintings. Not painting them though. I am way too princessy to be able to paint outside. The bugs, the sun, the snakes and other wildlife, all of the work to set up and then clean up after, ugh, not for me. And I hate the gawkers. When I was a student in Philadelphia, we often had to go outside and paint the street scenes. We may as well put a sign up asking all creepy men to please approach us and ask for sex. In Utah the landscape was beautiful but I never quite connected with it. I did take a few pastel workshops and did a few plein air landscapes, but they were unremarkable in every way. So when we moved to NY the landscape spoke to me and I decided to paint it. But on my terms. I didn't want to worry about the details. I wanted to make changes in composition. I wanted make things up. So now I take pictures of everything. Roads, hills, trees, fields, barns, houses, street scenes, flowers, everything I can see. The kids roll their eyes whenever I pull over to the side of the road to get a good shot. Crazy mom, they say. I take photographs in every season at every time of the day, in all kinds of weather (uh, you don't have to point out how close I am to plein air painting I am here). I have boxes and boxes of photos that I use for reference. At first I was a bit of a slave to the photo, but I soon tired of that and decided to let loose. I use photos as a baseline but often change the composition and follow my own vision regarding color, light, and mood. I am always flattered when people ask if I work on site, because I think my paintings tend to look like some wacked out, LSD-induced version of nature when displayed next to a real plein air painting. However, I do love and admire real plein air work and Doug and I have collected a number of pieces over the years.
I have recently been enjoying this blog by artist Rebecca Grantham. She does energetic, exciting plein air paintings. Her brushwork (and palette knife work) is impressive and I love how she captures the light and mood of a tangled wooded scene. I am envious of her trees. I always think I am going to paint the branches but usually end up with my usual solid mass of trees. She is also a busy mother of five kids, which I can relate to obviously, although five must be more hectic than four, right?
I especially enjoy reading Rebecca's blog while at my desk, in my 68º house, sitting in my comfy suede chair, a fat and lazy domesticated cat in my lap, and with no insects in my hair. I'm pretty much an indoor girl. So sue me.