En Plein Aire painting is a joy. I was at Flanders Nature Center with the Pomperaug Outdoor Painters on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Artist were invited to paint and tour the former property and studio of noted artist Natalie Van Vleck http://flandersnaturecenter.org/art-at-the-nature-center/ . I have these photos of the outdoor painting process thanks to photographer Michael Audette.
I arrived at about 12 noon, walked around the property to decide where I would paint and by 12:30 was at the easel painting. I often begin painting after 12. This gives me time to get the major shapes in during the early afternoon when the sun is high. Later during the painting process I can place the dramatic late afternoon shadows in. The difference of lighting on this day was drastic. The morning was completely overcast and the sun arrived just about the same time I did. Had I started earlier I would have been totally frustrated.
I decided to paint one of the historic barns on the property. I placed the barn on the bottom one third of the canvas and off to the side thinking an asymmetrical composition might be more interesting. I also ended the foreground just behind the ugly propane tanks editing them out.
I rough in the major shapes using Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue Oil paints applied loose and thin avoiding the use of additional medium.
I begin painting the background sky. I use Kings Blue (It is already lightened with white so saves time), Titanium White and some Cobalt Blue. I used Alizarine, Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna for the darks of the clouds, White, Cad Red and Alizarine for the lights of the clouds. I am still painting thinly and thinking about color relationships and value relationships.
I move forward to the trees and place a color note for darks mid-tones, lights and then color notes for the roofs, front and sides of buildings, then the grass in the mid ground.
I place the lights and strengthen darks on the trees to give them shape. When I am happy with the mid ground relationships I add thicker paints for the lights with loaded brushes and the palette knife. I also reassess the clouds and adjust shapes, strengthen darks and add some thicker paints for lights.
I move to the foreground and place the darks in using Ultramarine, Viridian, Burnt Sienna Alizarine and Cad Red.
I begin to use thicker paints for the foreground foliage mid-tones with loaded brushes and the palette knife. I vary the brushstrokes and direction of the palate knife. Using a small stiff brush I add the yellow flowers and lightest leafs with thick light paint. I use Yellow Green with Yellow Ochre and White for warm lights of foreground grass. Lemon Yellow,Cad Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre and White for flowers.
The painting was complete by 3:30. Three hours of painting. Not enough time for me to noodle around and ruin the fresh painting!
Materials and Supplies
I used a Julian 1/2 French Easel, Masterson Air Tight Palette with grey palette paper and a 12 by 16 universal primed white canvas. The colors on the palette are Titanium White, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Light, Yellow Ocher, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarine Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Kings Blue, Viridian Green, Yellow Green Light, Raw Umber and Burnt Umber and Ivory Black. I always put a small amount of black on my palette but rarely use it for outdoor painting.
Pomperaug Outdoor Painters http://pomperaugoutdoorpainters.blogspot.com/