Nimisilla Plein Air: #1

I went out to the reservoir to paint tonight. I planned on walking a bit out to the peninsula, but this little window into the kayak launch struck my fancy. So I painted it.

As I painted, I met a nice woman who has been an art teacher for a long time, she seemed happy to see someone out painting. Maybe if I keep doing this, more folks will get the bug and start heading outside to paint a bit.

I started with a value study on some scrap paper, during which I identified that it would be very difficult to capture the brightly lit leaves hanging in front of the tree trunks without masking fluid. I’ll have to remember to bring some next time.

After the value study, I started into the painting, and ran into my first problem. The sky kept shifting to redder hues as I painted. I tried to ignore it, and just paint as it appeared at the start, but as I went, the values changed so much in front of me, and the lighting got so much more dramatic that I kept wanting my painting to reflect the newer, more striking moment. Of course, that resulted in my massively overworking the painting until I finally got frustrated and just painted a great big slash of brown across it.

Not my best moment.

Then, I moved to a picnic table, and painted the sky across the reservoir. By the time I was painting this, it got dark enough that it was hard to see the painting clearly, and the mosquitos were phoning their friends and cousins and old roommates to come suck as much blood from my ankles as they could get their mouth parts on, so I packed up and came home.

When I got home, I decided to paint the first painting again, from memory this time. I’m happy I did, because I’m having a little trouble picturing the scene well in my mind even now. Im sure if I had waited another day the image would be all sorts of foggy.

One thing I noticed is that when I painted by memory, I didn’t focus on the tiny details and pockets of shadow that I focused so closely on as I painted in Plein Air. Perhaps this is a good part of the reason I got frustrated – I was trying to paint too much detail.

That’s a funny thing to say given that this painting has a thousand blades of grass – when I started with painting the foreground as a simple wash. I want to improve on simplifying my paintings so I can leave out the right amount of details in order to make the composition less busy.

Anyway – I’m tired. I’ll say my favorite part of this painting is actually the trees on the distant horizon. Then, I painted that horizontal branch right over them – oops. (That branch was there, it was actually part of the scene that I found so interesting.)

Another thing: I didn’t get the glare that I wanted on the water. I’ll need to work on that.

Good night.

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