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dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 12:42 PM
Here is a link to Bill Cone's blog. Questions have been brought up about the value of plein air or studio work. I think both are important and Bill Cone describes this on his blog with words, however, I think his paintings tell the story. His plein air paintings are beautiful, and his studio (pastel) paintings stunning! He has succeeded in bringing the work forward, IMHO.

http://billcone.blogspot.com/

Donna T
10-28-2008, 01:23 PM
Thanks, Donna; I admire his work so much. His studio work is just as beautiful as his plein air work. I think if you can learn from your plein air experience and apply it to your studio work it certainly can't hurt. Whether a piece was created on location or not doesn't matter at all to me as long as I like it.

Donna T

dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 01:28 PM
Hi Donna T! Yes! And then the idea of more development happening in the studio to bring the painting to a more complete story, very much appeals to me. A perfect world with no guilt because you are not outside painting.

Deborah Secor
10-28-2008, 04:26 PM
I spent some time looking at Bill Cone's blog yesterday and it was very interesting. I love that the studio paintings reworking the on location stuff were so fresh and simple. In fact I grabbed the one of the sunlit rocks to compare to the sketch of it side by side. He actually simplified things much more in the studio painting! Instead of the perception that you add more, he took out things, massing the shapes. Very effective and quite beautiful. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that I love this particular painting!)

Cone's sketch:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/23609-Cone-aboveediza_sm.jpg

Cone's studio painting, Afternoon Descent:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/23609-cone_afternoon_descent_sm.jpg

Wow!

Deborah

klord
10-28-2008, 05:16 PM
Hi Everyone,

I think the most important thing one gets from working from life, whether it is figure, still life or landscape, is a better understanding of how light illuminates a subject. THere can be no better teacher than direct observation. A higher calling is taking what one has learned from life and bringing the information into the studio for contemplation, exploration and process. I do not mean to say that working only plein air, or only in the studio is right or wrong. As we all know, there is no right or wrong to what we do creatively. We just need to understand what is right for "me".

Hope you all don't mind my interjection here..... been away for a couple months, and hope to catch up with you all soon.

dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 05:29 PM
Hi Kim! Yes, and the most important thing to learn from this visual demonstration of the above two paintings is how to bring that "life" into the studio. For me working both plein air AND studio is the right thing. Kim it is good to hear from you.

Hi Deborah! Thank you for posting these two paintings. I have learned that I learn better from a visual demonstration than from words, and I love words, but getting that into my paintings works best by looking and seeing. From the two paintings I can see how it can work. Now I have to just get there from here. I like seeing how he refined some elements, and created more depth in the studio painting without loosing the life from the plein air painting. WOW again!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/120719-edizastudy3_sm.jpg
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/120719-ediza_morning.jpg

klord
10-28-2008, 05:31 PM
For those who go to the link that Donna provided for Bill's blog, and are interested in the essay that Jean Stern, Executive Director for the Irvine Museum, (which is part of the Joan Irvine Conservancy in Orange County, CA, www.irvinemuseum.org (http://www.irvinemuseum.org)) I have gotten permission from Mr. Stern to publish his article that originally ran in the California Art Clubs Spring 2008 newsletter. It is long, but really leads to some good discussion and arguement. There is a thread in the PLEIN AIR channel from 7/9/2008 posted by Eric Michaels - Eric Michaels on Plein Air.

Here is the essay-


Essay by Jean Stern, Executive Director of The Irvine Museum, appearing in the California Art Club Newsletter of Spring 2008

PLEIN-AIR PAINTING:
WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?
by Jean Stern




The early 1980s saw the institutionalization of California art painted from the 1890s to the about the early 1930s. This period has come to be called the "California Impressionist" or sometimes the "California Plein Air" style. The overwhelming popularity of these paintings in the last two decades has led to the founding of numerous significant private collections, an outpouring of articles, catalogues and books, as well as a growing interest of museums and art historians to research and document this style.
The 1980s also witnessed the growth of a significant group of young contemporary artist, heralded by members of the California Art Club, who readily turned to outdoor painting. These artists promptly adopted the label "plein air." The term has a strong allusion to great art movements of the past, notably French Impressionism, and it has come to suggest elegance, superior talent, and masterful facility with paint and brush.
Outwardly, the ascendancy of plein air painting has benefited all in the tripartite art community. The artists paint a substantial number of small, brilliantly colored, relatively inexpensive outdoors scenes; the art dealers cover their walls with these delightful, easy-to-sell little jewels; and the collectors can build an imposing collection representative of the best artists of today for a lot less money than the cost of a single painting by the greats of the past, be it Edgar Payne (1883-1947), Granville Redmond (1871-1935) or, most certainly, Guy Rose (1867-1925).
And yet, after two decades of indulging at the cornucopia of plein air, many artists are choosing to distance themselves from that designation. They consider it too limiting and more than a few have personally told me that they prefer to be known as "American Landscape Painter."

WHAT IS "PLEIN AIR?"
The term "plein-air" comes from the French phrase en plein-air which is an idiom that does not translate directly, but simply means "outdoors." Similarly, in Italian, the phrase is al fresco, and in Spanish it's al aire libre.
Plein air painting is a specialized approach that landscape painters have utilized for more than one hundred and fifty years. Plein air is not a philosophy, nor a style, and it is certainly not a static state that one reaches and remains in perpetual happiness. It is unquestionably a landscape painter's most effective tool, and like any other tool, one needs to learn its proper uses as well as its limitations. When followed to its completion, the plein air technique has proven over and over that it is the best approach to paint natural light.

PLEIN AIR IS A VEHICLE, NOT A DESTINATION
The most important point of plein air painting is that it is not the end product, it is in fact, the beginning. It is how one starts the process of creating a successful landscape painting. A plein air sketch by itself is but a fragment, a desire that has been abandoned and is forever out of reach.
It's tempting to continually paint small, appealing little jewels that tend to sell well, and unfortunately, many artists are unknowingly (or knowingly?) making a career of it. But one does so at their peril. Inevitably, all three elements of the art community will grow disillusioned: the artist ultimately gets labeled "a painter of minor works;" the dismayed collector realizes that the house is full of nothing but small paintings: and the dealer will concede that the cost and effort expended to sell small paintings is the same as to sell large paintings, which command a higher profit margin.
Moreover, the practice of plein air has suffered abuse by being reduced to some sort of status symbol, a yardstick that says if you are not a plein air painter, you cannot be a good painter. Quite to the contrary, truly good landscape painters want to be judged by final works, paintings that are almost universally painted in the studio.

ORIGINS OF PLEIN AIR PAINTING
The custom of working outdoors has been practiced for several hundred years, but it was limited to drawing and watercolor painting, as oil paints were not suited for use outside the studio.
Produced in pot-sized batches, oil paints were necessarily restricted to the studio since the only way to prevent them from drying and hardening was to keep them warm, at a constant low simmer. Artists tried various methods to carry small amounts of prepared paint to the field to sketch outdoors, and various ways were used to carry fresh paint in portable, airtight and waterproof containers. A small bag made from a pig's bladder worked very well, but seldom for more than one-time usage. A pin hole was punctured on the side of the pouch to release the paint, then resealed with the pin, but as it was not airtight, the paint hardened after a few hours.
In 1841, an artist named John Goffe Rand (1801-1873), an American portrait artist living in England patented the collapsible soft-metal paint tube, initially sealing the opening with cork stoppers, then opting to use screw-on caps that we know today. This light-weight, airtight container offered artists easy portability and by collapsing part of the tube with each use, the remaining paint stayed fresh and pliable. The following year, the ten-year old British manufacturer of art materials, Winsor & Newton, began marketing Rand's paint tubes, thereby revolutionizing the art of painting.
The first painters credited with painting en plein-air in a systematic manner were the artists of the Barbizon School. Originally a small group of Parisian artists of the 1830s, who associated around Thťodore Rousseau (1812-1867), they broke with French tradition by rejecting the pre-set convention of the Academic manner that stressed carefully composed historical settings, including landscapes. In 1848, Rousseau led the group out of Paris to the Barbizon Forest, where they communed with nature and recorded their experiences by painting en plein air. In addition to Rousseau, the most notable Barbizon artists included Camille Corot (1796-1875), Narcisse Diaz de la PeŮa (1807-1876), and Charles-FranÁois Daubigny (1817-1878), who often gets the distinction of being the "first plein air painter."
In the early 1850s, a small group of anti-academic Italian artists began working together in Tuscany. They were called the "Macchiaioli," (Mahk-eeah-yoh'-lee) a term derived from the Italian word macchia meaning spots or patches of color. The Macchiaioli painted outdoors along very similar approaches to the Barbizon painters in that both were intent on painting the landscape directly. The vivid Mediterranean light of Tuscany accounts why the Italian paintings are permeated with color.
The Macchiaioli were habitually slighted by the critics of their day, and even up to the mid-twentieth century, they were generally neglected by art historians. On a path analogous to the Impressionists, the Macchiaioli embraced bold color usage and an energetic brushstroke. Sadly, while the French Impressionists ultimately won respect and universal popularity, the Macchiaioli languished as an "also ran" for more than a hundred years. Among the notable Macchiaioli painters were Telemaco Signorini (1835-1901), Silvestro Lega (1826-1895), and Giovanni Fattori (1825-1905).
Following upon the footsteps of the Barbizon and contemporaneous to the Macchiaioli, the Impressionists became the great popularizers of plein air painting. Impressionist landscapes were distinctive and often drew criticism and praise for their convincing effect of true natural light.
Perhaps like no other artist, the plein air painter is mesmerized by natural light. The passion for light drives them to seek the genuine experience and paint it, regardless of climate, weather or natural impediments. Hence, it is as a plein-air painter that the landscape painter finds the ultimate reason for being, and at the same time, confronts their most rigorous challenge: to capture quickly the brilliant and fluid visual sensation of natural light at a specific time and place while facing the formidable constraint of fleeting natural light.
There are numerous tales of artists battling extreme situations to capture the correct light. On one of his first trips to the Grand Canyon, William R. Leigh (1866-1955) misjudged the oppressive heat when he went out to paint. He was forced to stop working when his paints melted from the heat and rolled down the canvas.
By contrast, on a visit to Quebec in the middle of winter 1908, Alson S. Clark (1876-1949) put on three layers of clothing to paint en plein air in Quebec Harbor, which he found impossible after his paints froze on the palette. While most any other artist would have packed-up and returned home, Clark, the supreme plein air painter that he was, located a blacksmith who made a small iron box to hold a glowing piece of hot coal affixed to the underside of the palette. Unquestionably, Clark must have been freezing, but his paints stayed warm enough to allow him to continue working.
As the average person is not a plein air artists, it's often difficult to understand the respect accorded by artists for good natural light. The distinguished painter of the Sierra Nevada, Edgar Payne (1883-1947), was set to marry artist Elsie Palmer (1884-1971) on the morning of November 9, 1912. Early that morning, Edgar asked Elsie to contact all their guests and reschedule the wedding for later that afternoon, because ďthe light was perfect.Ē Elsie understood the artistic value of perfect light and readily complied.
Understandably, it is a trait of plein air painting organizations in general that the group's total body of work is characterized by a disproportionately large number of small paintings and sketches, an inauspicious distinction that will forever haunt the legacy of the Macchiaioli.
Now is the time to restore our dedication to landscape painting, not only as artists, but as collectors, dealers and art historians as well. The sweet siren's song of the plein air sketch as the painters' panacea has to be left behind. To paint the landscape is one of the most ancient of human endeavors. Landscape is surely the most supreme of art subjects.
Nature is always with us and indeed it is within us. It has long been imprinted on the human mind and is part of the human collective subconscious. Our affinity to nature is inescapable. The vision of a beautiful day makes us feel uplifted. A day in the country refreshes and restores us. When we can no longer deal with the modern world, with all its stress and pollution, we turn to nature. A blue sky gives pleasure, green grass is calming, fresh air is rejuvenating. Nature is indeed our mother and we turn to her when we need respite.
Honor nature by properly portraying her majesty and grandeur, a small plein air sketch just will not do!
JEAN STERN

dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 05:48 PM
Thank you Kim! I read this once before and found it caused me great distress, and then I thought about it and came to the realization that I agree with him. And as time goes on and I look at more plein air work, I have total agreement. I feel that I learned something of value from this article. Now when I am out plein air painting, I think about how I am making notes by painting and later can work up something more complete, and hopefully beautiful, as Bill Cone and you have done.

Donna T
10-28-2008, 06:55 PM
This article is causing me great distress - but mostly confusion. Hi Kim, it's good to see you back! I realize that this is only one person's opinion on the practice of plein air painting but, boy, am I glad I didn't read this before I ever considered learning how to paint en plein air! If anyone can enlighten me with your thoughts on some of these statements I would appreciate it. These in particular aren't sitting real well with me:

"Plein air is a vehicle, not a destination." :confused: Isn't it possible that a plein air painting can be considered not only a finished work, but a finished work of the same worth as a studio painting? I understand too well that not every plein air attempt is a success but I have to hold out for the possibility that it might be!

"A plein air sketch by itself is but a fragment, a desire that has been abandoned and is forever out of reach." :confused: Quite the opposite for me - those "fragments" are precious fuel for future paintings. Out of reach? Not when the camera lies and my only reference is my plein air experience.

By painting small, the artist gets labelled "a painter of minor works." So, all good works are necessarily large?

Plein air has been "reduced to some sort of status symbol." That really cracks me up. Most of the people I know have no idea what the term means - they only care what the finished piece looks like, how much it costs, and if it will go with their couch. :lol:

I do agree that plein air is "an effective tool", it is the "best approach to painting natural light", and "truly good landscape painters want to be judged by final works." I just like to think that these final works could possibly be plein airs. Maybe not likely, but possibly.

I guess I have more to learn than I thought!
Donna

dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 07:35 PM
Hi Donna T! Your questions are exactly the questions I had the first time I read this article. And then, as I thought it through, it all made sense to me. As I looked at plein air paintings by some well-respected people I started to see the point. Then today looking at the two paintings by Bill Cone, it all came together as a final thought, or a handshake in thought. I could suddenly SEE in the paintings the point that Jean Stern was making. However, it did not happen overnight. It took a whole week of thought.

And it takes some of the pressure off when I am outside painting. I can think more about getting the essence of the day. Making color notes, instead of trying to get that masterpiece.

klord
10-28-2008, 07:59 PM
This article is causing me great distress - but mostly confusion. Hi Kim, it's good to see you back! I realize that this is only one person's opinion on the practice of plein air painting but, boy, am I glad I didn't read this before I ever considered learning how to paint en plein air! If anyone can enlighten me with your thoughts on some of these statements I would appreciate it. These in particular aren't sitting real well with me:

"Plein air is a vehicle, not a destination." :confused: Isn't it possible that a plein air painting can be considered not only a finished work, but a finished work of the same worth as a studio painting? I understand too well that not every plein air attempt is a success but I have to hold out for the possibility that it might be!

"A plein air sketch by itself is but a fragment, a desire that has been abandoned and is forever out of reach." :confused: Quite the opposite for me - those "fragments" are precious fuel for future paintings. Out of reach? Not when the camera lies and my only reference is my plein air experience.

By painting small, the artist gets labelled "a painter of minor works." So, all good works are necessarily large?

Plein air has been "reduced to some sort of status symbol." That really cracks me up. Most of the people I know have no idea what the term means - they only care what the finished piece looks like, how much it costs, and if it will go with their couch. :lol:

I do agree that plein air is "an effective tool", it is the "best approach to painting natural light", and "truly good landscape painters want to be judged by final works." I just like to think that these final works could possibly be plein airs. Maybe not likely, but possibly.

I guess I have more to learn than I thought!
Donna

Hi Donna,

No disstress is meant by sharing this article with everyone here. I just wanted to provide further information that Bill Cone was referring to in his blog.

I personally believe Mr. Stern wrote this piece to create a forum for this particular discussion, and to perhaps suggest some artists rethink their ideology of "only plein air" or "only studio". In the last 15 -20 years the plein air movement has transcended the intended purpose of working from life and has become a "genre" all itself. I think what Mr. Stern is trying to say and/or encouraging is that, as beautiful and fresh as a work done in the field can be, it is up to the individual artist whether to push the envelope in continuing to develope a higher ideal or thought/concept behind an intended piece.

Unfortunately, the world that we call "art" is small and can get politically charged. THere will always be proponents of each "side" whatever side of the proverbial coin that may be, as there are always purists for each medium, way of painting, etc. There are many players and perceived levels, and the deeper one moves in these "circles" the more critical it becomes for the individual artist to be his/her own artist and produce what is important for them, not what people are trying to push on them.

I will humbly share my thoughts to your questions, and look forward to hearing what others hear have to say.

1."Plein air is a vehicle, not a destination." :confused: Isn't it possible that a plein air painting can be considered not only a finished work, but a finished work of the same worth as a studio painting? I understand too well that not every plein air attempt is a success but I have to hold out for the possibility that it might be!

Yes, I believe a plein air piece can be considered a finished product. I currently value my outdoor works the same as my studio work. Others think differently, where they believe smaller studies are worth less than works developed in the studio that have more time. My vision will probably change when I start to produce larger more accomplished pieces. I think Mr. Stern is not talking about individual pieces, but an artists collective body of work.

2.By painting small, the artist gets labelled "a painter of minor works." So, all good works are necessarily large?

I firmly believe that quality does not come in sizes, but when one is talking about "great" work in museums, they are generally larger more developed pieces by masters of the time. I believe this has been proven throughout the ages, just walk into any museum. This is not to say that small jewels do not exist, but they typically do not generate the same awe inspiring reactions by the public.

Just my two cents to your questions. I had my own that I asked of Jean directly. He is a wonderfully nice man, with a willingness to share of himself. I encourage you if you have time to read the lengthy post from Eric Michaels, (I don't know how to get the link here, maybe someone can figure out how, pretty please.) There was a great deal of questions and arguing and is quite a read of opinions.

Sorry for the essay here!!:D

klord
10-28-2008, 08:01 PM
And it takes some of the pressure off when I am outside painting. I can think more about getting the essence of the day. Making color notes, instead of trying to get that masterpiece.

Donna, EXCELLENT!!! I couldn't agree with you more! And occasionally the masterpiece falls into place right out in the field.

Donna T
10-28-2008, 09:02 PM
It's reassuring to hear your thoughts and explanations, Donna V and Kim. I wasn't really distressed, Kim, it's just that I thought I had some of the principles of plein air figured out and this article made me feel like I have it all wrong! :rolleyes: I just find it kind of sad to see anyone devalue plein air painting in any way. It has done me so much good and continues to be my main source of instruction. I guess it makes sense in the world of galleries and musuems that large, studio pieces are seen as more successful than simple little plein air paintings. At this stage in my career, a success is not a big sale, it's understanding one more thing about some aspect of painting that I had been struggling with. I'll be patient and keep an open mind and maybe with time I will really "get" this.
Thanks again.

Donna

DAK723
10-28-2008, 09:11 PM
This article is causing me great distress - but mostly confusion. Hi Kim, it's good to see you back! I realize that this is only one person's opinion on the practice of plein air painting but, boy, am I glad I didn't read this before I ever considered learning how to paint en plein air! If anyone can enlighten me with your thoughts on some of these statements I would appreciate it. These in particular aren't sitting real well with me:

"Plein air is a vehicle, not a destination." :confused: Isn't it possible that a plein air painting can be considered not only a finished work, but a finished work of the same worth as a studio painting? I understand too well that not every plein air attempt is a success but I have to hold out for the possibility that it might be!

"A plein air sketch by itself is but a fragment, a desire that has been abandoned and is forever out of reach." :confused: Quite the opposite for me - those "fragments" are precious fuel for future paintings. Out of reach? Not when the camera lies and my only reference is my plein air experience.

By painting small, the artist gets labelled "a painter of minor works." So, all good works are necessarily large?

Plein air has been "reduced to some sort of status symbol." That really cracks me up. Most of the people I know have no idea what the term means - they only care what the finished piece looks like, how much it costs, and if it will go with their couch. :lol:

I do agree that plein air is "an effective tool", it is the "best approach to painting natural light", and "truly good landscape painters want to be judged by final works." I just like to think that these final works could possibly be plein airs. Maybe not likely, but possibly.

I guess I have more to learn than I thought!
Donna

I agree with you Donna T.! I think we have to take into account that Jean Stern is the director of a museum and seems to put a "museum director/collector" interpretation on the subject.

From an artist's point of view, whether the final result is produced in studio or plein air, should make little difference, if the results are to one's liking. And whether or not the work is done plein air or in studio may be known only to the artist anyway, unless done specifically for a plein air show.

Personally (although I realize it is a critic/collector reality) people want to label and categorize too much, and they shouldn't! Good grief - what would they categorize my latest plein air painting as - it was started in studio (from a photograph) and then I went out and worked plein air! I guess I just don't know the "rules"!

Don

dvantuyl
10-28-2008, 09:21 PM
Hi Don. Donna T, I have been thinking about this some more and would summerize it all this way. Studio or plein air, both have equal merit. However, with plein air it does not need to stop there. The idea is to go on and develop further. I think this is what I see happening with my work. I have been outside all summer and am anticipating the winter months, I will work inside and see what I can do with my plein air as reference. I love my little plein air paintings, they bring back fond memories. The photo's alone just don't quite get me back in time and place like those little paintings do.

DAK723
10-28-2008, 11:59 PM
PLEIN AIR IS A VEHICLE, NOT A DESTINATION
The most important point of plein air painting is that it is not the end product, it is in fact, the beginning. It is how one starts the process of creating a successful landscape painting. A plein air sketch by itself is but a fragment, a desire that has been abandoned and is forever out of reach.

The one thing missing from this statement, from the above essay, is the words "in my opinion." Because that is what it is - Jean Stern's opinion. It is certainly not an artistic fact (as stated) that the plein air part IS the "start of the process." It can be. It often is. But it is not always. To insinuate that a plein air piece is just a fragment, is rather insulting, it seems to me.

The attempts of writers, essayists and whoever else to try to formalize and define a rigid criteria for the creative process will always fail, in my opinion! Creativity is not usually a step-by-step process. Although, heaven knows, we artists try to find that magic formula!

Personally, Bill Cone's blog has been one of my internet bookmarks for a few months now. Just wonderful work. I actually like the plein air versions shown here slightly better than the in studio versions. Just curious about what the rest of you think...

Don

dvantuyl
10-29-2008, 12:27 AM
Hi Don. For me, I like the studio version the best. He has retained the freshness and simplicity of the plein air painting and then added more depth. I like both the plein air and the studio and if I were going to buy one or the other, would buy the studio painting.

I think it is okay to make strong statements about something that one feels passion for such as art and painting. As an artist, I take a strong stand on what I want to do and the kind of paintings I want to paint. I get bored with attempts to be all inclusive.

Around here I see artists try this, or try that, a little of this, or another workshop, and never take the time to develop a style, or even stick with one medium. For me, making a strong statement is a good thing. I sit up and take notice. If you soften it up and make it passive, who is going to listen? It is up to the student to filter out the stuff they do not agree with. I read many things about how to paint, or books about life. My idea is take what I need and leave the rest. I never take everything someone says. It is my responsibility to think. And maybe I can add something to this world of painting. I guess it is the rugged individualist in me, but it keeps me happy, and keeps me painting.

klord
10-29-2008, 02:22 AM
The one thing missing from this statement, from the above essay, is the words "in my opinion." Because that is what it is - Jean Stern's opinion. It is certainly not an artistic fact (as stated) that the plein air part IS the "start of the process." It can be. It often is. But it is not always. To insinuate that a plein air piece is just a fragment, is rather insulting, it seems to me.

The attempts of writers, essayists and whoever else to try to formalize and define a rigid criteria for the creative process will always fail, in my opinion! Creativity is not usually a step-by-step process. Although, heaven knows, we artists try to find that magic formula!

Personally, Bill Cone's blog has been one of my internet bookmarks for a few months now. Just wonderful work. I actually like the plein air versions shown here slightly better than the in studio versions. Just curious about what the rest of you think...

Don

Hi Don,

I would like to respectfully point out that as Mr. Stern is the essayist, doesn't that imply it is ultimately his opinion that he writes?

And to comment on Bill Cones plein air vs. studio pieces... I was there with him when he painted the originals, and we sat side by side for one study after which we conversed on the merits of the granite cracks and how to implement them without them taking over the entire painting or popping out too much. He went on to further paint more studies/paintings at Lake Ediza and Iceburg Lake... THe success of all his work comes from his exquisite draftsmanship, however, in my opinion,:D the studio pieces if viewed from far away will hold together as stronger images, not by virtue of a larger size but of a simplifying of the masses. THis is the quest, however, in plein air works vs. studio, trying to keep that beautiful freshness that one gets while in the field and bring it back into the studio. A continued struggle for me, that is for sure!

Love your passion!

klord
10-29-2008, 02:23 AM
Hi Don. For me, I like the studio version the best. He has retained the freshness and simplicity of the plein air painting and then added more depth. I like both the plein air and the studio and if I were going to buy one or the other, would buy the studio painting.

I think it is okay to make strong statements about something that one feels passion for such as art and painting. As an artist, I take a strong stand on what I want to do and the kind of paintings I want to paint. I get bored with attempts to be all inclusive.

Around here I see artists try this, or try that, a little of this, or another workshop, and never take the time to develop a style, or even stick with one medium. For me, making a strong statement is a good thing. I sit up and take notice. If you soften it up and make it passive, who is going to listen? It is up to the student to filter out the stuff they do not agree with. I read many things about how to paint, or books about life. My idea is take what I need and leave the rest. I never take everything someone says. It is my responsibility to think. And maybe I can add something to this world of painting. I guess it is the rugged individualist in me, but it keeps me happy, and keeps me painting.

I couldn't have said any of this any better! Thank you!

DAK723
10-29-2008, 09:44 AM
Hi Don,

I would like to respectfully point out that as Mr. Stern is the essayist, doesn't that imply it is ultimately his opinion that he writes?

And to comment on Bill Cones plein air vs. studio pieces... I was there with him when he painted the originals, and we sat side by side for one study after which we conversed on the merits of the granite cracks and how to implement them without them taking over the entire painting or popping out too much. He went on to further paint more studies/paintings at Lake Ediza and Iceburg Lake... THe success of all his work comes from his exquisite draftsmanship, however, in my opinion,:D the studio pieces if viewed from far away will hold together as stronger images, not by virtue of a larger size but of a simplifying of the masses. THis is the quest, however, in plein air works vs. studio, trying to keep that beautiful freshness that one gets while in the field and bring it back into the studio. A continued struggle for me, that is for sure!

Love your passion!
Hi Kim,

First, let me say that I certainly mean no disrespect to Mr. Stern. Nor am I a writing expert in any sense. However, the vast majority of Mr. Stern's essay is factual information - the definition of plein air, the history of plein air painting, etc. When interjecting an opinion in the middle of factual information, it seems like a good practice (in my opinion!) to differentiate between the two, whether it is an essay, a book, or a response here on WC!:) Otherwise, how does one differentiate? But I do not mean to nit-pick. My point is really - why do we need to categorize?

Again, Mr. Stern is certainly entitled to his opinion and as an expert in the field, his opinion should carry a lot of weight. It just changes the entire tone of the essay when opinion seems to be presented as fact.

I agree completely that the quest of landscape painting is to capture the freshness of plein air, whether finished in the studio or not (or done entirely in the studio, for that matter). If it is a struggle for you, it does not show, that's for sure. Your work is certainly among the best in the field.

Don

Continental
10-29-2008, 09:59 AM
I am totally amazed what Pastels are capable of!!!

westcoast_Mike
10-29-2008, 12:29 PM
Thanks for bringing this up Kim. I remember seeing this in the Plein Air forum as well. Iíve only been painting for a year and only had four plein air excursions so far. With this qualifier, I really canít get into the lively discussions brought up in the other forum on the merits of a studio artist v. plein air artist. I too feel that what Sterns has to say is that plein air has become an end unto itself. The popularity of the early California Impressionists has sparked a fad so speak. Many artists only want to paint en plein air and a sizable community only wants to buy the same. A lot of what is being put out has the label, but not necessarily quality. I feel he is saying that this is fashionable and profitable now, but will not stand the test of time.

His statement that it is Vehicle and not a Destination is what seems to bring in the most heated debate. This bring to mind two different examples Iíve seen other Artists mention. Kevin McPherson, in his book Filling Your Paintings With Light and Color, talks about using his plein air works to develop larger pieces in the studio. In fact, he starts the chapter by posing the question of why do studio work. He gives examples showing both a finished plein air work, as well as a studio piece based on it. Yes the studio piece is larger and has more detail. But the sense of light and atmosphere are straight from the original and could not have been done from a photo. The same for Billís recent work that he has posted. Both are finished pieces and one can argue the merits of each. However, could he have done the studio piece if he had not first done the plein air.

I also think of Duane Wakeham in the October issue of Pastel Journal. One of the most striking things that hit home for me in this article is when he said that a certain point he turns the canvas away from the scene at hand, and concentrates on what the painting needs. Is this not what Stern is saying. That the object should be a great painting, and not how or where it was done.

For myself at this point, Iím learning to see light, depth and color from working outdoors. In the studio Iím learning technique that helps me to work more efficiently on location. Iím grabbing what I can, from any source, and hoping it will make me a better painter. Iíve rambled enough and hope some of this makes sense.

Colorix
10-29-2008, 01:05 PM
Yes, "Wow!" is apt.

I love the immediacy (is that a word?) of the PA, and the visible strokes, it sparkles!

Comparing it to the stuio version below...

Cone's sketch:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/23609-Cone-aboveediza_sm.jpg

... I find many interesting changes. There is just enough information left in the blue-gray bg to tell us it is a cliff, but basically it is one flat vertical mass, doing it's job as a dark bg. As the view is uphill, I suspect we enter the painting from below left, and the path guides us up beautifully. Look, he's even blocked our access to the path to the right with a stone "roadblock". The eye can't slide down there, but if it would anyway, there is a second stopper right at the bottom right corner.
The cliff to the right has gotten both simplified and given a more interesting and definitive shape. In simplifying the bumps and cracks, he's kept a few significant ones that tell it all. In the sketch, there is so much info it gets uninteresting to look at, there are too many small shapes. And the coniform tree got company and interesting shapes and shadows in the studio version.

Wow!


Cone's studio painting, Afternoon Descent:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2008/23609-cone_afternoon_descent_sm.jpg

saramathewson
10-29-2008, 03:03 PM
I am in awe of plein air painters! I have tried on a few occasions and ended up with sketches with not enough detail to progress it forward. I do also take pics of the spots I try to paint. My problem is one of comfort. As a person with chronic pain illnesses, both my energy is low and my pain is often high. Not a good combo for painting outdoors. I tend to do more from photos I have taken and then work in the studio. That way when i am tired I can lay down when I need to etc. I live in the very southern part of AZ almost on the border. It is hot and sunny almost everyday of the year. But, I also have incredible views of beautiful mountains and valleys from where I live. I study the scenery everyday and hopefully will be able to do some quick outdoor studies and then move inside. I think it is an amazing thing for artists to stand or sit outdoors for hours on end and paint wonderful paintings. There is so much talent here at wc, I am learning a lot! This thread has been very informative, thanks for starting it.

dvantuyl
10-29-2008, 03:13 PM
Sara, thank you for sharing. I love Arizona and wish I could see the view right now. I think the quick studies would work very well. I don't get out as much as I would like because of weather or other reasons and work indoors for most of the winter. It all works!

Colorix
10-29-2008, 07:19 PM
Sarah, if you have a good view, you can do plein air from the comforts of inside! And if you have stable weather, you can continue the next day at about the same time. A plein air doesn't have to be done in one sitting.

Warm and sunny all year around sounds like heaven... right now, here, temps have dropped to just above freezing, and I *really* don't like cold and dark.

Colorix
10-29-2008, 08:12 PM
Don wrote:
From an artist's point of view, whether the final result is produced in studio or plein air, should make little difference, if the results are to one's liking.

Precisely! And the collector/buyer should be pleased too, to get a painting they love. But, then again, we have collectors who make *investments*, caring only for the perceived and expected monetary value.

I do agree with Mr Stern on this: "Perhaps like no other artist, the plein air painter is mesmerized by natural light. The passion for light drives them to seek the genuine experience and paint it, ... "


Natural light is unrivalled in clarity and intensity, but also in how it shifts over the day and year. And various atmospheric conditions. The variations are fascinatingly endless!

But as he continues:

" ...regardless of climate, weather or natural impediments. Hence, it is as a plein-air painter that the landscape painter finds the ultimate reason for being, and at the same time, confronts their most rigorous challenge: to capture quickly the brilliant and fluid visual sensation of natural light at a specific time and place while facing the formidable constraint of fleeting natural light."

While I regard that statement as true, therein also lies the problem. It is here that the danger is high that it (whatever 'it' is, the same is true for doctors, who have a brainwashing type of training) becomes a thing for the select few who have the passion for light and also have good enough health and stamina to go hiking (and who do not get upset by creepy crawlies that bite!). It is made to be a thing for "the inner elite" only, those who have passed the test, and will be accepted into the "brootherhood". Initiation rites... I've personally met this kind of snotty plein-airist, who certainly had Airs!

But, a thing one person does well isn't necessarily The One-and-only Thing.

I sincerely do hope you guys, especially you who paint plein-air, do not misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm agreeing that for the life-long student of light, nature, out in the free air, is the best and most interesting. What I'm reacting against are those people who put their egos on piedestals and have the need to practice plain old psychological levelling in order to not feel small and insignificant. It is their Air of superiority that is so unnecessary.

Don again:

And whether or not the work is done plein air or in studio may be known only to the artist anyway, unless done specifically for a plein air show.


Monet swore he did all his work plein-air, but nevertheless he built a studio in his garden, which was full equipped, and there are photgraphs of him next to his painting paraphernalia that are *obviously* used in his studio and not outdoors. But, he was known to fib a bit, and to make a story better. I guess he was good at making PR by and of himself. And, painting in Norway clad in a bear furcoat, he wasn't happy to go outdoors at all. (Though one beautiful painting came out of that adventure.)

Anyway, some artists make excellent plein-airs all the time, while others mostly use them as 'visual snapshots' for studio work, but now and then one of the plein-airs will be just perfect in itself.

The bottom line, IMHO, is for each artist to know what they want and love to do, and to respectfully grant other artists *their* own right to the same. What's right for me is not right for you, and vice versa. Being true to one's passion and vision is important, be it in the studio, in a submarine, or on the top of a mountain.

IMHO. :D

Charlie

robertsloan2
10-31-2008, 01:40 AM
There's a brief article by Richard McKinley in the October Pastel Journal that addresses this point.

Loosely quoted, he states that there are three approaches to plein air. You can do field sketches not intended to be finished as themselves. You can begin plein air and finish plein air. Or begin plein air and finish that painting in the studio. What I loved in the article is that he showed examples of all three approaches and gave their pros and cons.

When I get to where I can do plein air, which is going to take still more recovery time, I know that I'll probably go out to do it without deciding which of those three approaches I'm doing until I've done whatever I do. Do some quick note-taking sketches, look at some of those and decide to finish them later right on the same paper or mount, and do some completed paintings right on the spot. I'd rather decide at the time for the particular painting than nail myself to one or the other of those ideas.

But what I enjoy most in painting inside or out is not deciding everything right at the start but just looking at what I want to paint and making it up as I go along. It's easier to be intuitive that way and get emotional in my painting.

dvantuyl
10-31-2008, 11:58 AM
Hi Robert,

I like your thoughts on plein air painting and being in the moment when you go out and paint. I hope you get to experience plein air painting. For me, I have always loved being outdoors. First I rode my horse everywhere, then I started hiking the mountains, then I moved to running trails, then biking. Now I am standing in one place for hours. I love the quiet, hearing birds, the smells of earth and leaves, and then trying to get what I can in a painting. With plein air I get more misses than hits, but it is grand.

Hi Charlie,

Thank you for adding your thoughts to all this. For me the merits of plein air painting is simple.........being outdoors. All of the arguments for and against pass me by when I am outside trying to get something. I live in a northern climate so getting outside is limited to the days when it is not raining, snowing, blowing, or just plain bleak outside. The good days are a treasure. I paint every day so get plenty of studio time, and that is good and the paintings can be further developed with more time and resources available.