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View Full Version : Much to chew...not quite there yet! Biggin Plein Air


LarrySeiler
10-03-2005, 09:27 PM
as some know I've been painting plein air for about 9 years or so now...mostly oils, but previously did wildlife art for about 17 years with acrylics. Acrylics come along with not much effort usually for me, but I've been wrestling with wanting to attempt some very large plein airs. For those unfamiliar, a plein air is painted on location outdoors in natural light. Usually smaller sized panels is typical and more manageable seeing that the light will inevitably change.

I admire the work of Edward Redfield who was a Buck County Impressionist in America, a contemporary of Singer Sargent and second in sales only to Sargent. So, he was quite popular.

His typical size afield was 50"x 56" painted in oils, usually started in the morning and finished same day...which we call "alla prima' or all in one sitting. Can you imagine the logistics of hauling a painting out of the woods or field wet with oils that size? Can you imagine even trying something with intent to do in one session that size?

Well...the other day, I did my 18"x 36" in a couple hours and it went relatively well. Yesterday some crazy notion came to me at 1pm to pack up my gear and head to a river/park location here in the northwoods...and to grab my 32" x 36" prepared canvas. Set up by 2pm...light was going down already around 5pm or so...so what the heck was I thinking??? :eek: I need counseling! hahaha..

I got three hours into this baby and had to haul my stuff out. Will try and finish indoors now and hopefully can do justice. Here's the process...

first..you see the back of my 32x 36 canvas setting in the clutches of my half-box French easel. Note the corner bracing and vertical mid struts I have to prevent bowing, warping and problems with wind. (there was plenty of wind!)-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Oct-2005/532-backstretcher_supports.jpg

Here is a baking tin cover I used for my paint where I will wash in my underpainting and build up. Everything has to be set up for speed and efficiency when painting from life...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-tintray_palette.jpg

Here is yours truly at work, so you can see the scale of this thing...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Oct-2005/532-rteest_workingoodmanoct05.jpg

One thing that gets you right off is squinting to get a feel for how its coming, backing up to judge perspective issues. I mean the darn thing is large and intrusive. The rocks made it difficult to set up my easel to one side where I could instead turn my head to view the subject...so I had to peer over the top. The sun was off to the side and I wanted shade to judge my color and values.

Next is the wash/block in that I started. Perhaps in thinking later, I should have used much more paint, more opaque so that I was less adjusting. Would have taken more advantage of last light.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-acrylicblockin_32x36.jpg

oh...and how about my reference view...here ya go...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-peshreference_oct05.jpg

I add Liquitex Extender Gel medium to my acrylic where I want texture to sit and be more three dimensional (similar to an oil effect in appearance) as suggestion of detail comes from texture. I used a painting knife to apply and leave as is...here are two closeup examples of foliage done this way-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-closeuppesh1.jpg

and...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-closeuppesh2.jpg

and with only three hours in on a beast this size, the sun was leaving me in shadow and quickly descending. Going back another couple days would be the option of many...but color changes fast this time of year as does weather and the distance to drive. I will try and finish this instudio...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Oct-2005/532-endsesh_goodman_oct052.jpg

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the outcome of this one. Felt I had a good start at the wash in...but simply ran out of time to get it where I wanted. Nice thing about acrylics is you can always gesso out the canvas and start another one.

My wife liked what I started and so I agreed to play with it awhile and see what I can salvage or make of it. I'll keep that gesso close at hand just in case!!! ;)

Trying one this size brings a whole other element. It was fun...but there were points where the stomach knots up and the inner voices chide you and attempt to discourage. Thing is, you have to ignore such and plow on...

take care

larry

Lady Carol
10-03-2005, 11:47 PM
Can you go out tomorrow at the same time, presuming that the weather is similar? It looks like a great start, Larry. Love the fall colours.

Do you ever put your reference photos in the RIL?

bullyluvver
10-04-2005, 12:08 AM
How could you not be thrilled - I'd be over the moon with a painting as good as this!

Gail

gnu
10-04-2005, 01:19 AM
yummy licious, that beautiful toning in the yellow tree makes my eyes water...
I love working this size, sure uses a lot of paint though..
I have lately been setting out my paint in two rows down the MIDDLE of my palette(same shape). leaves more room for the mixes around the bigger outside dimensions..
I can't remember if you like to mix as you go(that is for one or two mixes at a time) or if you mix more than that number then just use as you need.?
I'd love to see this finished too, it's so close..

LarrySeiler
10-04-2005, 01:44 AM
Can you go out tomorrow at the same time, presuming that the weather is similar? It looks like a great start, Larry. Love the fall colours.

Do you ever put your reference photos in the RIL?

well...I did paint fulltime for twelve years Carol...but with my wife's illness of fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome I found it necessary to take on a day job with good benefits. I am in the classroom again, my seventh year back..teaching art. So...not real conducive to revisits. I usually have the alla prima thing down pretty good.

I don't often put photos in the reference library...one, I don't think of it painting myself on location 99% of the time...and feeling most artists should be attempting much the same. I was glued and a slave to photos (though I didn't realize it) for near 20 years instudio before I went out and cultivated the on location habit. So...I really don't think of it...

I have put a few up...by request.

take care

larry

LarrySeiler
10-04-2005, 01:47 AM
How could you not be thrilled - I'd be over the moon with a painting as good as this!

Gail

when you first start painting plein air...you are so overwhelmed you try simply to paint what you see. Then you learn not everything seen is what captured your first interest...so you learn to be aware of what NOT to paint. Eventually you learn that the moment....your "impressions" are what you are after. So, I'm not just after an image that might pass as looking good...but after what compelled me...my impressions. I know what I want...time didn't leave me much window to accomplish it. So, the challenge will now be to create something that will recapture that experience or mood.

thanks...appreciate the comments

Larry

LarrySeiler
10-04-2005, 01:49 AM
I can't remember if you like to mix as you go(that is for one or two mixes at a time) or if you mix more than that number then just use as you need.?
I'd love to see this finished too, it's so close..


with acrylics...putting it on as fast as I do...I mix some up put it down, reach for more bottles and squeeze and put more down. Take paper towel, wipe the tin clean...put on more paint. Really not on my tin hardly long enough to dry...nor become mud.

I'll repost when finished....I have one other to work on first from Saturday. Thanks...

Larry

Richard Saylor
10-04-2005, 04:06 AM
It's excellent so far, Larry. If it were a smaller painting, I would consider it finished. The composition and color balance are as they should be, in my opinion, so put that gesso away.

Richard

timelady
10-04-2005, 06:57 AM
Larry I always enjoy your threads. I'm sure this will turn out great - the foundation is there and you have the experience to do the details in your head. :) This starts the time of year when I really miss being in north america. Wonderful colours.

Tina.

LarrySeiler
10-04-2005, 12:24 PM
thanks Tina...yep, anytime caught indoors seems unethical this time of the year!!! :)

thanks..

will play with it Richard...thanks for the vote of confidence, not where I want it yet

take care

Larry

pameladallaire
10-04-2005, 01:06 PM
Don't you dare go anywhere near that painting with Gesso Larry! It's great! I love the bright colours. My kind of painting. I know you usually finish a painting in-studio but do you ever just finish it on the spot...plein air? :clap: :clap: :clap: Pam

LarrySeiler
10-04-2005, 01:41 PM
thanks Pam...well, that's part my frustration...I'd say 95% of my plein airs are finished on the spot. I consider myself an "alla prima plein airist" and alla prima means to do in one sitting.

I don't even like revisiting a spot to continue on on another day because I feel one's emotional constitution or creative inclinations change from one day to the next, and painting the 2nd or 3rd time is more like a clinical approach where reason overrides the usual intuitive zone one rides.

A plein air (speaking for myself) is a visual expression of a moment experienced...but doing it over several days says this was my experience over several days.

Now that may well be good and many fine plein airs that are larger are completed this way by many masterful painters...however, for me there is a near sacred or noble moment and coming back is like trying to slip back into that. I compare it to intimacy. When one truly experiences an intimate special moment, one might often plot thereafter to reproduce all that led up to it in expectation and hope to experience it again. Often however, such comes off flat and short.

I have done some pretty large wall murals in several hours and with that experience behind me and near 27 years painting period...I simply talked myself into the idea I could start a painting late in the afternoon and do justice.

I will now see the purpose of this painting differently, setting new goals and challenges and where it will end may well be surprising even to myself.

take care

Larry

Catkin
10-05-2005, 08:54 AM
Larry
I love the colours and brush strokes - don't gesso it - wrap it up and send it to my house!
Sharon :cat:

nes7827
10-05-2005, 12:25 PM
Hey Larry, good to see you out there with the larger canvas....some paintings just have to be big, don't you think? Looks great man! Nick

LarrySeiler
10-05-2005, 11:53 PM
thanks Sharon....thanks Nick...

most of us aren't real thrilled as a rule being walked up on when only a short time into a painting, especially when folks start saying, "OOohh...that's nice!"

You come back with..."well, just got into it...should be more interesting if you happen by in an hour or so!"

Well...I guess I should be somewhat kind to myself here as I had only three hours into this larger one. No doubt it's one of those six hour pieces. Perhaps...I'll return this Saturday or Sunday and put more hours into it. That might be interesting...we'll see how it goes.

take care

Larry

bistus
10-06-2005, 12:41 AM
Larry: What do you thin your paint with for the initial wash in - if anything? Do you ever have an adhesion problem with the paint?

LarrySeiler
10-06-2005, 09:39 AM
I have a thread I stored in my Industry Partner forum that shows step by steps my taking my son thru how to paint with acrylics. Jason is an internationally known professional high end caricaturist, presently at 28 years of age attending the Chicago American Art Academy. He is studying illustration to expand his technical prowess, and so good it is hard to imagine he could get better...but he is. The kid mastered watercolors...and saw the benefits at long last for what he does with what I was telling him about acrylics. So we sat down at the kitchen table of my mother's during a Christmas get together and I painted realy quick a Nutcracker on the table.

In the thread I show some of my detailed works...but never have I had to use a medium of any kind for adhesion purposes. I may use medium for other things from time to time, a thickener for texture purposes whatever...but while many hold fears of what watering acrylics down will lead to...I've painted with acrylics since the early 80's and build up layers with nothing but water.

Check out this thread if interested, it may show some stuff worth the time to read...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190950

oh...and here's Jason's own website too to see where acrylics is taking him...
http://www.jasonseiler.com

Larry

Einion
10-06-2005, 10:16 AM
Hi Larry, thanks for the step-by-step photos and the walkthrough, very informative.

Can you imagine the logistics of hauling a painting out of the woods or field wet with oils that size? Can you imagine even trying something with intent to do in one session that size?No thanks :D

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the outcome of this one. Felt I had a good start at the wash in...but simply ran out of time to get it where I wanted. I can only imagine the time constraints weighing on one's mind trying to paint this size at speed. I think it's a nice job overall, I particularly like the foliage.

Nice thing about acrylics is you can always gesso out the canvas and start another one.Don't you dare :mad: Finish it in the studio I say! :)

Einion

artcrazy
10-06-2005, 12:24 PM
lovely! :clap:

LarrySeiler
10-06-2005, 09:00 PM
thanks Nicole....Einion...much appreciated. Much on my plate at the moment...but I'll get around to it. I have a couple workshops coming up next week to prepare for...

Larry

Marty C
10-06-2005, 09:36 PM
I wasn't exactly thrilled with the outcome of this one. Felt I had a good start at the wash in...but simply ran out of time to get it where I wanted.
Great thread Larry! I know you were subject to time constraints and under some pressure there but did the size of the piece also add to the problem? You've got to take your hat off to Redfield!

pampe
10-06-2005, 09:52 PM
it is a wonderful life-filled painting, Larry

LarrySeiler
10-06-2005, 09:52 PM
I'm sure having only attempted a few larger pieces of this magnitude had something to do with it Marty...
I was on top of my 18"x 36" no problem...but didn't run out of time or the familiar light.

One learns in the attempt from hindsight...for one, I'd put out much bigger volumes of pigment next time. I'd bring 2" and 3" housepaint brushes next time if I had to. I think my brushes were too small...

so...things like that will make the next go a bit easier. One has to pay their dues without question and I found that at this size, I've got some payin' up to do!

Redfield was a marvel!!!

Physically it takes a toll on you as well. After painting four hours on a 20"x 24" earlier this summer....I felt physically drained, emotionally/spiritually beat up.

Part of me died and remained behind!! hahahaaa....

I have often said it takes about 120 bad paintings to learn something about painting. Each time a new genre or direction is taken, it will take a number of rough experiences to get where you want. When the going gets rough....the tough get going...

*whew.... hahahaa....

I'm hoping one day to get my hands on a recent book that came out on Redfield...

take care Marty!

Larry

LarrySeiler
10-06-2005, 09:55 PM
thanks Pam...

its easy I think to fall into a trap to remain where you've got something under control and some kind of mastery. How humbling to embrace something new. Part of it I suppose is my wanting to do this alla prima. Most artists return several different times with similar light conditions to take something of this size on...but I don't find that option easy where I live. Knowing Redfield did it, gives one the idea its possible to be done. Then again Bobby Jones won all the golf grand slams as an amateur...so, hhhmm...maybe not!

appreciate the good word

Larry