"Orchard II," 10"x12", acrylics on museum quality panel, a study created plein air my second day of Vianna Szabo's Plein Air Workshop at Millers Big Red Cider Mill this past weekend. This is an extra special painting because it's really two different pieces all in one (see below) AND it has a dinosaur - it's only $250 if you are the first one saying please.
Day two brought about conversations of atmosphere and color, drawing and painting depth, and allowing the viewer to step INTO our paintings.
We made value sketches, committed to a compositional idea, and set up our gear.
I lost my composition, though, as the sun moved - my left to right shadows, including an awesomely menacing claw shaped shadow! - disappeared with the noon sun. And I hadn't captured them adequately.
I tried to fake it, but didn't have the visual memory to pull it off. I angrily wiped out my corridor of grass just as Vianna walked up behind me.
"So, you're chasing the light, aren't you?" Why is it that she can give such critical advice in such a kind and humorous manner?
Chasing the light means that the artist is allowing the changing atmospheric conditions to dictate their painting, instead of sticking to their original idea. I would imagine it's also one of the main reasons so many people struggle with plein air landscape painting, because landscape is the worst sort of model, always moving and changing and sass talking the artist.
We talked about the importance of that initial value study - that it needs to capture the form and light patterns while we are filing away visual memories. It has to be strong enough to stand on it's own and keep us committed to our original idea long after the light has changed.
Our compromise was that I would retain my intent, those railroaded shadows, using what was currently in front of me (because I had limited visual memory of the previous scenario).
And I set another challenge for myself - really working on capturing the atmosphere, the movement in between the branches and forms.
I think I did a decent job of things, and regardless of what my painting looks like, my brain is full of new ideas and concepts, and I am already making plans to get my gear outside soon!
Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork,
PS Lots of photos from the weekend are here.