View Full Version : Masters of the Month - Summer 2009, Theme: Plein Air!

Carey Griffel
05-04-2009, 10:40 AM
Welcome to this month's Master of the Month theme, plein air!

This year we are tackling the project of studying the masters in a new way, with themes. I will provide some suggestions for study and additional information for inspiration, but the ultimate interpretation of how you would like to go about this study is up to you.

For instance, you may:

*Pick a particular painting (fitting the theme) to copy from a master. (This month, it would be a painting done plein air, or from actual life observation.)
*Set up your own still life/model/photo/etc, and approach your painting as a particular old master/"school" of painting might have handled the subject (the main suggestion this month is to go out and paint!).
*Paint using a particular traditional technique.
*Experiment with the palette of a particular master or school of painting.

Basically as long as it's related to studying the masters under the particular theme of the month, it goes! Some months are more specific, some are more general. There are many different ways to learn, and many ways to apply what we learn from other great artists, and I am hoping that this project will reflect that (and allow some of us to work on our own art while also providing inspiration and encouragement as a group).

Studies and works in progress are most encouraged. You need not finish your painting by the end of the month, late submissions are fine. (This thread will be moved into the "Painting from the Masters" sub-forum at the end of the month.)


Plein air literally means painting outside in natural light. Plein air is a relatively recent concept in the history of oil painting, but that does not mean its history is not interesting!

Here are a few links about the history/definition:


To sum up some of that information, landscape painting did not come into its own for many centuries, as previously landscape elements were intended to provide a backdrop for a subject, or to aid in the allegory/symbolism of a painting. Eventually artists became interested in nature itself. When oil painting became more portable with metal tubes, and paint and materials you could purchase more easily, then plein air painting was a more viable option for many artists and grew in popularity. We are lucky, indeed, to have the resources today which we have at our disposal!

Here is a bit of more specific information copied from the first link above:

Although the genre of landscape painting was officially legitimized by French artists Claude Lorraine (1600-1682) and Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)—who, by executing on-site sketches and then finished paintings of the Roman Campagna in 17th-century Baroque Rome, defied the belief that landscape was a nonclassical genre—the official plein air movement began during the 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment and the early 19th-century’s Romantic movement, when poets, philosophers, and artists turned to nature to find peace, solace, and the presence of God. The first and greatest landscape artist to emerge during this time was the French artist Camille Corot (1796-1875), who, in 1825, spent two years exploring the Roman countryside with oil studies that inspired countless landscape painters to begin recording truthful observations of nature.

One such artist influenced by the newly forming plein air tradition was John Constable (1776-1837), an English painter known for his sweeping outdoor scenes filled with architectural wonders and a sentimental pride for England’s luxuriant countryside. Like Claude and Corot, Constable believed that landscape painting must be based on observable facts and not cliché formulas. The more time Constable spent outdoors painting from life, the more intrigued he became with the sky, light, and atmosphere of the landscape and was said to have studied these elements with a meteorologist’s accuracy. The artist’s fidelity to nature and interest in atmospheric effects inspired the movement known as the Barbizon School, an informal group of mid 18th-century French artists—including Jean-François Millet (1814-1875), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), and Charles- François Daubigny (1817-1878)—who settled in the village of Barbizon on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau to paint scenes of rural life. Following in the footsteps of Corot and Constable, this group’s focus on extracting emotional significance from the light and tone of the landscape became the foundation of the forthcoming Impressionist movement.

In the late 1800s Claude Monet (1840-1926) and his friend Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) pioneered the French Impressionist movement as they used loose, heavy brushstrokes and multiple flecks of color to recreate the light effects found in an overall impression of a scene. Although they were considered radicals of the academic movement, the Impressionists’ style was actually deeply rooted in realism, but it was also inspired by new optical theories on the way the eye processes visual information. Monet, Renoir, Édouard Manet (1832-1883), Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), and others believed that what one sees in nature is not form but rather light on form, and that light can be conveyed through obvious brushstrokes of unmixed, intense colors. Taking their painting gear outdoors and advocating the idea of a new way of seeing through direct observation, the Impressionists created spontaneous, intensely colored, light-filled paintings that soon became a standard for truthfully conveying the outdoor experience.

As you can see, plein air actually has a longer history than might be expected!

Here is the wikipedia article about the Barbizon School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbizon_school), which had a great influence on the movement. (Some of these artists had quite a bit of impact on others not directly related, such as Vincent Van Gogh.)

For study this month, we encourage you to take your easels and paint out into the fresh air. :D If you are unaccustomed to working out in the open, or even to landscape painting in general, I encourage you to give it a shot. It is wonderful experience and can teach you so much! (And do not worry if you do not come away with masterpieces...believe me, anything you do can't be as bad as my first few dozen attempts!) Consider it to be exercize for your painting muscles! Even if you do not produce a great work of art, you are learning and it will be sure to help you in your other artistic adventures.

If this is really too much to tempt you, or if you would like an additional challenge, then you may choose to do a painting from an artist who worked plein air. Monet and Van Gogh are both good choices, for instance, though there are many many others! (You might want to do a search for images of those artists mentioned in the article above.)

Here are a few selections to inspire you:

John Constable, Dedham Vale, 1802

Edouard Manet, House in Rueil, 1882

Vincent Van Gogh, Cornfield with Cypresses, 1889

I will be back with a few suggestions and tips to help those who are new to plein air. And do not forget the awesome resources of the Plein Air forum (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=87) here at WetCanvas!

We hope to see you here! :)

Master of the Month Calendar for 2009

Here is the MOM calender for the year (I tried to get a good mix with specific topics, general topics, techniques, artists, etc, so everyone should be able to find something they can participate in, I hope!):

January - Flowers (http://wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=539773)

February - Horses! (http://wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=544250)

March - Russian Masters

April - Glazing a Still Life (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=555517)

May - Plein Air

June - Wildlife/"Natural" Subjects

July - Self-portrait

August - Portraits

September - Pet Portraits

October - Glazing a landscape

November - Value studies

December - The Renaissance (1400-1600)

This will be posted at the beginning of each monthly thread so you will all have plenty of time to prepare and participate. More information about each theme will be posted during the applicable month. You may choose to participate in any way you'd like so long as it fits the theme/master study. (Possibilities: copying a masterpiece, using your own reference in combination with inspiration from a particular masterpiece/master, using the palette of a particular master, using the technique of a particular master or of a particular traditional school of painting, etc.)

Carey Griffel
05-04-2009, 10:59 AM
A few tips for those new to plein air:

*Do not be afraid! It is a daunting task to paint outside for the first time. Give yourself the opportunity to have fun and enjoy the process and rejoice in the learning experience, do not expect a masterpiece, expect to learn and grow!

*Keep it simple. Do not try to paint everything you see, squint at your subject and look for the large shapes, masses, forms, and light. And once you decide, then stick to your plan/vision (instead of "chasing the light" and ending up with a painting where the light on a tree is different than the light on a roof). Also, feel free to experiment by changing elements slightly to fit your composition.

*Scout out locations/compositions before hand. Do some quick thumbnail sketches first, or take photos to study at home before selecting your spot. You might also try going out into your yard, or to a local park, to practice.

*If you are nervous about painting around strangers, try to pick an unobtrusive spot. If people come up to you, anyway, it is okay to say "Sorry, I have a limited time to finish this, so I really can't talk now." Or you can wear headphones (even if they're not turned on :D) and this will likely deter most people from interrupting you. Also, keep in mind that people are generally egocentric, meaning they do not pay as much attention to others as they do to their own affairs. You might think that everyone in the world is watching you, but in fact they are usually quite oblivious. ;)

*Morning or afternoon light gives the most dramatic shadows.

*There are many ways to easily transport a wet painting. One way I came up with was to take a cheap frame in the standard size of painting I might do outside, and tape or screw a board to the front of the frame. You can then place your painting inside and the wet front will be protected. (Actually I made a "box" by attaching hinges to two frames in this manner so that two paintings will have backs facing each other. I can attach images of this box later.) The edges of your painting will, of course, touch the frame, but if you plan for this it's usually easily fixed back in the studio.

*If I am not going far and I know about how much paint and what colors I will be using, I have taken a hinged tabletop picture frame with glass, set my paint out on that, and used it as a convenient palette. This way I don't need to worry about carrying the tubes of paint or setting out my paint when I get to my location. (Again, I can show a photo of this later.)

*When done painting, I wrap the tips of my brushes with a bit of saran wrap, then I wash them out at home.

*Don't forget plenty of paper towels for cleanup or mishaps! And also a plastic bag or two for trash.

That's all I can think about for the moment. If anyone else has some neat tricks or tips, we'd love to hear them!


05-04-2009, 11:14 AM
Carey, this is a perfect and exciting topic. Your examples are inspiring and your tips can be put to good use. I will be trying to do a few of these this month.

05-04-2009, 11:34 AM
For the starters 2 links



In the last linked thread i sended in my first 2 plein airs. This is my 4th:


The water was greenish brown or brownish green but i mentally couldnt do it. Next time ill try to paint the water green. I tried to paint 1/3 land and 2/3 water. Unforunally it ended up to be more or less 1/2 land/water. My goal is that the next one is better then the last one :cool:

I now see several things to improve the painting but i hope ill see it next time sooner when painting. I ve painted only a couple of landscapes, so then is plein air more difficult, but its fun to do!

Carey Griffel
05-06-2009, 02:48 PM
Wetbob, that is really wonderful! I think you captured the elements very well indeed. (Oh so much better than my first attempts! :p) Also, I am very impressed by your composition. For whatever reason, composition is always a very difficult thing when it comes to landscapes.

That is a good goal to have, and I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

We had nice weather all last month, and now it has turned a bit cold and rainy. :lol: Oh well, it will give me some chance to scope some areas, take pictures, and perhaps do some sketching for compositions.


05-08-2009, 03:49 PM
2009/01/22 : Plein Air attempt #38 (or thereabouts)
Location : West Virginia
5"x7" (12.7x17.78cm) oil on panel
"Lefthand Creek"


2009/04/04 : Plein Air attempt #43
Location : West Virginia
5"x7" (12.7 x 17.78cm) oil on panel
"Joplin Branch"


05-09-2009, 01:10 PM
Wetbob, that is really wonderful! I think you captured the elements very well indeed

Thnx Carey for your support.

Also, I am very impressed by your composition

A woman that lived there thought it looked like what i was painting. Im now practicing green water! at home

Oh well, it will give me some chance to scope some areas, take pictures, and perhaps do some sketching for compositions.

Good luck Carey hope the wether will be great this month.

THNX red Ochre for posting, GREAT work!

bob matheson
05-10-2009, 04:49 PM
Here is my example.14x 18 oil on c/b Along The Minnehaha Creek. Xposted in landcapes and Plein aire. Also I would like to add another Couple Masters.Peder Mork Monstad, Danish.IILya Shiskin Russian C&CS WELCOMEhttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-May-2009/90732-Along_The_Minnehaha_Creek_14x18.jpg

05-11-2009, 01:09 AM
Wetbob, very nice for an early one especially.

Richard, always breathtaking, very inspiring.

Bob, I love the vibrant colors.

I still intend to do a few but the time has not been right yet.

Carey Griffel
05-11-2009, 02:40 PM
Richard, awesome! Is that some of the snow you learned about painting flowers? I love the texture you have.

Bob, thanks for joining in! What a wonderful use of greens you have (I always find so much green to be daunting!), and great sense of light.


Carey Griffel
05-11-2009, 02:44 PM
And Bob, wow, what great suggestions! I'd never heard of those two artists before, what awesome work!


(Is this the Shiskin you meant?)

bob matheson
05-11-2009, 03:54 PM
And Bob, wow, what great suggestions! I'd never heard of those two artists before, what awesome work!


(Is this the Shiskin you meant?)
http://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/art.asp?aid=2785Carey, yes, that is the Shiskin!Also check out Emilio Perez Sanchez,Theordore Robinson,and Walter Luant Palmer.

bob matheson
05-11-2009, 03:58 PM
Bob, thanks for joining in! What a wonderful use of greens you have (I always find so much green to be daunting!), and great sense of light.

~!Carey[/quote] Greens can be Tricky! Remember the more the light hits them the more they warm up! So in shadow the bluer they get.I use Turquise and cereleane? this time of year also cobalt..Thanks for the comments..

05-11-2009, 04:25 PM
Well, go ahead and laugh. Here it is my plein air attempt #2. As soon as I started out into my yard, the wind came up, so I crouched down behind a bush to try to shelter my canvas. It only helped for a moment, so I ended up painting this holding the easel and palette in one hand and brush in the other, still crouched down. I had no way to clean my brush with this procedure, so things became a bit messy. Early in the process I dropped the canvas onto my shoe which it slid off of onto the ground. At one point my cat showed up and attempted to assist. When I was nearly finished (at least ready to quit) my husband came over to tell me it was too windy to paint outside.:eek:

Anyway, here it is. I tried to use what I had read was Monet's palette (at least what I had that was close): cobalt blue, cad yellow, sap green, aliz crimson, light cad red and white.


This is on an 8'x10" canvas. In the center is my apple tree, to the left my ginkgo, rt rear cedars, in front of them in the mid-ground is the edge of my rose garden, in the foreground are two small mugo pine.

05-13-2009, 09:45 AM
Hey Carey,

I'm sure there's a bunch from the "artwork from life" section that would love to jump into this thread! (Larry, Wyn, René, etc. get over here :D !) Thanks for putting this up as I'm a firm believer in the need to get out and paint directly from life as much as possible.

While I've been at it for several years, I still consider myself a neophyte in learning all there is about painting outdoors. But I gotta say, nothing has helped me more to grow in all facets of painting, than painting from life.

My latest effort from a few weeks ago. 9x12" oil on linen panel. Morning light at a local park near the beach.



05-13-2009, 10:16 AM
Anyway, here it is. I tried to use what I had read was Monet's palette (at least what I had that was close):

It looks like Monet s work. I wont laugh, it s very difficult. Nice thick impasto strokes Becca.

'm sure there's a bunch from the "artwork from life" section that would love to jump into this thread! (Larry, Wyn, René, etc. get over here :D !)

It would be very nice when they want to join, mutch to learn from them and great works made. Randy your PA is great too. What a location to paint.

05-13-2009, 11:46 AM

I have been studying works by Richard Schmid, the modern master, and Emile Gruppe (my personal master plein air painter). So while I am not trying to paint like them, I do try to follow what I've read about their methods, along with adapting things to fit my own more lazy style.

I attended an OPAS paintout in Mansfield, Ohio at a place called the Kingwood Center. The grounds there are filled with lovely gardens and it was all donated to the city in the 40's by a couple who had no children and wanted their gardens to live on. Tulips were in bloom everywhere. The mansion sits on a hill, there were peacocks strolling around posing for photo opportunities and the greenhouse is full of exotic plants.

This is a big 20" x 24" painting- my reasoning being that if I was to be there all day I would need a large canvas as I tend to paint very quickly. The only problem was the wind- it was gusty so I decided to paint in the courtyard after my easel got blown over twice where I set up next to a fountain. My huge board acted like a sail! I ended up holding it down periodically as a gust would come through and blow over heavy wooden benches in the courtyard. Too bad, as it was a lovely day with temps in the mid 70's. After lunch I went inside a building and painted a small painting in the same area just to get out of the wind.

I still need to fix the ugly bushes I replaced three trees with.

05-13-2009, 03:15 PM
Wetbob, you are generous, thank you so much. The next one I do will be larger I think. I am more comfortable with a large brush. I also will can use my larger easel then which will help in many ways.

RandyP, great palms.

Nora, I like the bushes like they are. Are you sure they need work? Beautiful work on this one, and I am sure a memorable experience.

05-17-2009, 11:22 PM
Where are all of the Plein Air posting for this month? Maybe you are all like me, busy when the weather is favorable; and when I have the time the weather has been horrid. I do hope to see more postings here soon, including my own.

05-18-2009, 09:01 AM
here s a plein air party. Ill go there and hope there are a lot of people and things to learn

05-20-2009, 06:00 AM
Is that some of the snow you learned about painting flowers?

Painting white daffodils gave me the insight of how to approach painting snow.

Then I learned, when painting snow in plein air, very good insulatation is necessary or you won't be able to feel your toes for many hours later.

05-21-2009, 10:50 PM
My back yard and hour before sunset- minus the wooden fence surrounding the neighbor's pond.


05-21-2009, 10:59 PM
Richard, isn't it great when principles learned cross over. Thanks for the tip about the toes.:D

Yeah Nora!:clap: I am glad you are finding the time to paint, I haven't lately. Beautiful light effects.

Unfortunately there are two hazards to painting outdoors here right now. Either it is too windy, or if the wind stops the mosquitoes carry you off. I will try to get a plan.

Carey Griffel
05-25-2009, 05:36 PM
So. I am thinking maybe we should extend this through the northern hemisphere summer? I know summer is often a slow time on the forum and it's difficult to participate with everything.


I know I must sheepishly admit I haven't gotten to any oil painting plein air this month yet (though I've been doing a bit of sketching and other media...).

But I do have a few pictures I just came across in some old files that I thought I would share. :evil:

This is how bad plein air can be...and why you should *not* have your canvas oriented with the sun falling onto it. This is...I don't remember. Not my first plein air, but within the first dozen or so, probably. When I was out painting it, I was so pleased, I thought I'd captured so many lovely colors (purples, yellows, etc) with a great sense of light. I brought it into the house and, uh, was not so happy, lol! In case you can't tell within all that mud, it is supposed to be shelf mushrooms on a tree trunk. Oh so bad! :)


However, to redeem myself, here is a painting I did at a Ned Mueller workshop a few years ago...




Carey Griffel
05-25-2009, 05:39 PM
Oh, Becca, I wanted to say...I admit I did laugh! But just because I could totally see that happening to me. I think your painting turned out great! I'm impressed, it turned out very Van Gogh-ish.

Randy, I never cease to be impressed with your work! Very wonderful!

Nora, those are beautiful!! Awesome color and the detail you managed in that building is amazing. It looks like we should all meet in your background for a barbecue, too. ;)


Carey Griffel
05-25-2009, 05:48 PM
Here are a few pictures of a wet canvas carrier I made. Two cheap frames hinged with their backs together, boards covering the front. The two paintings sitting in it would actually be facing the other direction when it is in use, though, lol.





05-25-2009, 10:11 PM
Hey Carey,

Your panel carrier is ingenious! Also I LOVE that painting from the Ned Mueller workshop. Simple but dynamic and captures the essence of the scene. I envy you taking a workshop from him! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I feel your pain on the first one. Any person who paints outdoors has fallen victim to the direct sun on the palette problem. There are plenty who never paint without some form of shade, and frankly I don't know how they do it. Of course, folks like Larry Seiler, and Marc Hanson have painted outdoors so long, they know how to adapt for it, but the rest of us mortals turn out "mud paintings" when caught with no shade.:)



05-26-2009, 12:47 AM
Carey, Randy is right, the car piece is fabulous. You have such talent. Thanks for your generous take on my effort. I started out the other morning to do another, hoping to paint my little lilacs only to discover wilted lilacs. Ended up spending the morning watering instead.

Extending the posting time for the thread sets well with me. I do want to get more experience with plein air either way. There are at least three fall paint-out events nearby that I hope to participate in. I love seeing what others post, it inspires me.

05-27-2009, 08:30 AM
Hi all,

It's been a while since I have been able to post regularly, but I am hoping that I can get back into painting soon.

Everybody has done exceptional work this month and I have been inspired by you all to contribute even though I have not had the time (or to be honest, the inclination) to paint.

Unfortunately, this will be only my second painting in a little under three months so I am a bit out of practice. Anyway, while I hope to finish this right before the end of the month, I thought that I better post it now, lol.

I am painting Gustave Courbet's "The Cliff at Etretat after the Storm," 1870, Oil on canvas (133 x 162 cm), Musee d'Orsay, Paris. My daughter's school had asked if I would do this piece for them to auction off at their annual "kermesse" (school fair) and I agreed since I needed the added motivation to actually do it for plein air month, rofl.

Here it is so far (btw, I am copying it a 100 x 125 cm):


I still have to finish the water, the sky, the boats, and some rocks but it is coming along smoothly so far.


05-27-2009, 03:14 PM
Joey, nice to see your post. I have had some difficulty finding painting time myself. Your painting is spectacular, makes me want to pick up my brush right now. Hope you post the finished version, though this is breathtaking as it is. I am certain it will bring a generous contribution at the auction.

Carey Griffel
05-27-2009, 03:38 PM
Joey, yay, glad to see you at it again. :) I know the feeling well of fighting to get some motivation at times. I think Becca said it right, this *is* breathtaking. Those colors in the rocks and the general way you have handled them is just wonderful. I also love the subtle color variances in the sky nearer the horizon, and that door is just so cute.


05-28-2009, 08:24 AM
Thanks Becca and Carey!!!! I worked on the water a bit yesterday. Just the sky and the boats to go (maybe I'll work some more on the grass).


Thanks again,


05-29-2009, 12:02 AM
Joey, great work, at this pace you will have it completed by months end.

bob matheson
05-29-2009, 03:31 PM
Here is a piece from last weekend, posted in plein aire and landscapes. 16x20 oil on c/b C&C's Wecomehttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-May-2009/90732-THE_BARN_AND_THE_OAK.jpg

05-30-2009, 07:03 AM
Thanks again Becca, I hope I can finish it this month, but the paint isn't cooperating. I am pretty much done with the main part of the boats. I have to finish the beautiful red netting that goes on them though (but the paint isn't dry enough to paint over). Then it is just the sky.



That is awesome, I wish I could create my own work like that.


05-30-2009, 07:41 AM
Bob, that is a beautiful landscape, wish that mine would look so good.

Joey, sorry about that wet paint problem.

bob matheson
05-30-2009, 12:21 PM
Joey, Thank you for the very nice compliment!! It is all about hours spent.I think you have a nice work going.I would check my values in the background cliff rock, It reads to me as warmer than the fore ground?Maybe a little purplish wash in the corner closest to the foreground would push it back a touch, and I would darken the boat shadows to help anchor them..Jm2c But it is coming along nicely,looking forward to finished image!

bob matheson
05-30-2009, 12:27 PM
Becca,Thank you very much for the kind compliment.. You and Joey made my DAY!!!Plein Aire is pretty much all I do year round. I take some studies and blow them up,But mostly just paint from life...It isn't easy but it is a blast when it all works!!! I think that a summer doing Field studies from life will improve anyone's studio work..

05-30-2009, 09:21 PM
Here is a piece from last weekend, posted in plein aire and landscapes. 16x20 oil on c/b C&C's Wecomehttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-May-2009/90732-THE_BARN_AND_THE_OAK.jpg

Hi Bob-- I like the composition-- the barn drawing is great, since you ask for C&C---there are a couple things I see right off. The tree drawing is not as good as the barn- it appears a little off. The only red thing in the painting grabs my eye and keeps it over toward the right with nowhere else to go. I think you might make your shadows a bit darker and consider adding some violet to the blue shadows. ONE other thing-- it helps to create a three dimensional idea of space if you warm things up as they get nearer to us. Your cool blue grass in front throws me off. If you glazed some violet or burnt sienna on it to make it darker than the areas in the distance- this would go a long way toward adding depth. Hope this is helpful. Took me a long time to figure this stuff out and it is really hard to remember when you are out there and you have a time limit. :)


05-30-2009, 09:26 PM
Carey and Becca-- thanks -- belatedly -- for your comments about my back yard painting and my patio!

I painted another small one tonight. This is my neighbor's yard about an hour before sunset-looking toward the sun.

it is 5" x 7"-- not a very good picture OR a veyr good painting I am afraid.


Carey Griffel
05-31-2009, 09:40 AM
Bob, that is a great plein air painting, I am most impressed! I do think Nora gave some good thoughts on it, but I still have to say...gee, I don't think I could do what you did! :D

Joey, still coming along as expected, splendidly!

Nora, well, perhaps you didn't quite capture the light which I'm sure was there, but I do have to say that your painting has a type of mystery which really appeals to me. I think your composition is a bit unorthodox...which is a little refreshing.


Carey Griffel
05-31-2009, 09:48 AM
:) Announcement! :)

I think that we are going to switch up the schedule a bit, especially with the slower summer months upon us here in the northern hemisphere. We are going to leave this thread open throughout the summer. Officially through August.

Later this summer or beginning in the fall, if we have some interest, we can begin focusing on portraiture in various forms. (A self-portrait challenge, regular portraits, pet portraits, etc.)

Or, if anyone has any additional ideas of projects or challenges or...anything...don't hesitate to let us know what you'd like to see happen. Our goal is to make this enjoyable for everyone. Also note we have this abstract challenge (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=561642), as well, if you'd care to participate in, or just cheer along the way. :)


05-31-2009, 10:07 AM
Hi all,

I got in the red netting today. Bob I tried to follow your advice and I hope that you can see it a bit (in person it set it back a bit but I am not sure if the photo captures it that well). I just have to finish the sky and the boat shadows and it will be done. The Kermesse is on June 27th so it should dry enough by the time it has to go (if it goes, lol). I am going to build a simple frame for it which I will paint black.


I was a bit bored the other day waiting for the paint to dry on my boats and I began this Van Gogh plein aire piece (it is the Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing, 1888, Oil on Canvas (54 x 65 cm), Kröller-Müller Museum. I copied it at the original size. It is not really coming out all that well but I am trying, lol.



Carey Griffel
05-31-2009, 10:12 AM
Wow, Joey, the details on the boats really brings it out.

I'm happy to see that Van Gogh copy, too! It's one that always captures my eye when I see it. (Though I guess I could say that about a lot of his work, lol.) I think it's coming along great, to my eye!


05-31-2009, 10:13 AM
Carey, I am glad we are leaving this thread open for the summer. Maybe that will make me more mindful to try a few more. In a few minutes I may take a walk out back to the ponds and see if anything catches my eye.

Joey, good for you, completed on schedule and I think very nice. Love the start of the Van Gogh as well. I love the blue.

05-31-2009, 10:29 AM
Thanks Carey. The red in the original is just so gorgeous (he has this deep purplish red that I wish I could duplicate, but can't). I love that Van Gogh too. His colors are really amazing.

Thanks Becca (although I am being a bit lazy in not completely finishing it off, I still have the sky and the shadows to finish). I know what you mean. Van Gogh always seems to bring out the best in blue and yellow.

bob matheson
05-31-2009, 01:28 PM
Joey,It looks alot better The boat detail helps and the front with the door seems to come forward better.I think you Have A Winner!!

06-03-2009, 12:30 PM
Nice to see a painting from Jolter again. That vanGogh is one of my favorites. Didnt copy it yet.
I guess your work improves if you paint a little bit more loose/spontaneous. In my opinion from memory that makes this vanGogh great.
Thnx Carey for starting this Plein air. Its great painting while hearing birds, cows, nature... Send an other in soon.

06-05-2009, 03:24 AM
I think that is true wetbob, at least it helps me if I am loose and spontaneous.

Well, it is really bad but here is a try at my own work (what was I thinking, I prefer copying, LOL).

I must have scraped it 10 times before I got to this (think of how bad the others must have been, ROFL). I really have no idea how artists chose color and really want to learn. What I mean is how, with the infinite amount of colors that I can mix do I chose just one. And then how do I get the colors to look good together. It is very all very disheartening.



Any advice would be gladly taken.


06-05-2009, 07:46 AM
new version



Carey Griffel
06-05-2009, 09:14 AM
Yay, Joey, that is beautiful! What a great sense of light you have captured!

It *is* difficult, and honestly I don't know how to answer your thoughts about finding the right color. I used to wonder about the same types of things, and I tried to find definitive answers which would help me. Not that I'm anywhere near where I would like to be still, but I do think about the only thing you can do is practice. (Not very encouraging advice, is it? :lol: ) I get a lot of nice comments on my colors, and honestly couldn't tell you the first thing on how or why I choose what I do (except that for some reason I have a thing for purple shadows, and somehow the rest of it seems to build upon that, lol!).

One problem I found in reading about all the theories on color is that, well, there are so many! And artists can produce great work with each, but they aren't always necessarily practical as far as mixing and seeing color and achieving harmony. For instance, planning your palette around cyan, magenta, and yellow, (or whatever it is) or red, yellow, and blue is all well and good, but that tells you nothing about color harmony within a painting. And thinking about "warm light/cool shadows" is helpful to a point, but still a little misleading and simplistic. I think one of the big things that helped me was to realize that after a point, looking at your reference (whether from life or a photo) can only get you so far and that you also have to make sure things are working within the painting itself. Just my theory and the way I paint.

But, quite obviously, all the work you do copying is paying off considerably. :) Perhaps you have been struggling with it, but in my opinion you are winning. ;)

My two cents on what you have here...I like some things about the first version better, and some things about the second version better. In the second version, the area under the arch looks more cohesive and like it is really under the arch. In the first version that area is a bit confusing visually. I like some of the colors better on the first version, but...I think a lot of that likely has to do with just the different pictures (as it's always hard to get a decent picture in the first place--it just looks like that second picture was taken under slightly cooler light or something).

One nitpick is I'd like to see some of that foliage on the top of the wall break up the line of the wall/sky a bit.

Wonderful composition and I like how you have my eye going through the painting...I'm naturally lead to look through the little arches/tunnel, but you have kept a lot of detail in the foreground, too, so the tension between the two works great. Perhaps you need a bit more emphasis for that to happen on the vertical scale, though, and I think that breaking up the line of the wall with the foliage would help in that, and maybe working on the sky just a bit more (though not too much).

Only other thing I can see, I would place a small amount of darker shadow under those upper shutters. I don't mean darken the whole shadow, just an area right under the shutter where the shadow would be strongest.

Overall, I am just sooo impressed. I'd be thrilled if I could manage this in a landscape. What size is this?


06-05-2009, 10:16 AM
Thanks so much for your reply Carey, it is going to help a lot.

I wish I could chose harmonious colors like you do. There was a flower that you did last month, that I found stunning. The colors where just so good together. I wish I could do that. Or, I wish I could train myself to see color that way. Unfortunately it seems that seeing and creating color harmony IS THE place that separates the truly gifted and the so-so.

I hadn't noticed the straight line of the top of the wall and I think that that will help a lot to break it up. The sky had been all one color but it seemed like too much of one color up top was dominating, so I tried to add some small clouds. Unfortunately, they kept getting bigger and bigger, lol. Do you have any suggestions on how to get a better vertical scale? I would love to hear your ideas.

The shadows under the windows bugged me too, but I couldn't understand why, I think using your hint they will look better.

One problem I had working outside was mixing the right amount of a color. I found that I seemed to under mix color a lot (I guess I was trying not to have extra, since any extra would have to be thrown out because I needed a clean palette before it went into the car to go home). I then found it hard to remix the same color. Outside the color on the palette never seemed to be the same once I applied it to the canvas.

Well thanks again.


PS: It is 80 x 65 cm

06-05-2009, 10:51 AM
Hey Joey,

Your painting of the cliffs and beach is wonderful. It's good to see you getting outside and trying the scenes from life as well. One of the hardest things to learn when painting outside is getting your color mixes accurate. There's so much sensory overload that it can be daunting even under the best of circumstances.

From the many workshops I've taken, the really good painters I've observed use a device to isolate color. Dick Blick sells a combination view finder/isolator called the "View Catcher", but the device can be nothing more than a strip of medium gray illustration or matte board with a small hole punched in it. You hold it out in front of you and look through the hole at the subject and it allows you to screen out all the secondary information and zero in on the color. The gray allows you to compare the value of the color isolated. In doing this, you'll be surprised to find that many times your initial thinking about a color and its value are off.

Also, is your palette shaded when you paint outdoors? Keeping it shaded helps in your ability to accurately assess color and value.



06-06-2009, 06:36 AM
Thanks for the information Randy, I think that it will help out a lot. I will also try to remember to bring something to shade my palette, lol.

Here is probably the last of my work on this. Sometimes I'll glance at it and like it, but most of the time I am disappointed.


I still have a lot of work to go before I get to the point of being able to paint something that I can really be proud of. I guess I now know what I am deficient at: color harmony, knowing which type of brush work to use for a particular composition, and knowing which type of composition will be best for a particular subject. What skills do I feel comfortable with: well, I have a good knowledge of how to create effects (i.e., brush work) I want to create (I just don't know how to choose which one best suits a particular work); I am happy with my drawing skills (they are not perfect but they are good enough for me), and I can darn near mix any color I want (knowing which is best is another story).

Well, back to the drawing board, lol.


06-06-2009, 09:49 AM
Joey, love this painting. You have more skill than you give yourself credit for. I really like the warmth you brought to this scene.

06-08-2009, 02:09 AM
As usual Becca you are far too nice. Thanks.


06-10-2009, 11:14 PM
Hi Joey-- I do sympathize with you-- it is hard painting landscapes and especially painting them outside in the elements! I know I fail often to capture the feeling I want.

I agree- your drawing skills are pretty good. And while you can "mix any color" the thing that matters more than anything else in a painting is the VALUES. you need a definite idea of where that shadow is and where the light is hitting the forms. If I were you I would do a three color plein air just to get yourself thinking in terms of darks and lights. It never, ever hurts to do a few 30 second thumbnails to establish your overall design either.

Here is a 2 hour plein air from yesterday. C&C welcome.

Peace Like a River 12" x 12"

(those are supposed to be ducks- they were all over the place, just not close)


06-10-2009, 11:48 PM
Nora, I like this, I like the simple way you have presented the water, and it works very well.

06-11-2009, 03:54 AM
Hi Nora,

Thank you for you advice and encouragement. As I am self taught (and though I have read every book on color I have got my hands on) I still do not understand the concept of value. No book really describes it in a way that a laymen can understand (or I am too dense to get it, lol). So, I guess I have to delve fully into that concept.

I will definitely give your suggestions a try. I used to try 3 min sketches as a warm up when I first began with watercolors but have never tried it with oils.

I really love your paintings (especially your brush work). Your colors are really vibrant and you can just sense the depth.

Hi all,

I have finally completely finished these two painting:



And, there is no accounting for taste. The mother of one of my friends, loves my plein air and asked to buy it and though I tried to counsel her against it, lol, I sold it to her (she would not take it for free, lol).


06-11-2009, 06:36 AM
This is my first plein air, I have wanted to try it since last summer but didn't have the nerve to paint in public. Once I got out there I didn't worry what people thought of my painting ; )
I know it isn't great but I have learned from it, hopefully my next one will improve.


Nora, you make it look so easy ; )

Joey, great job on those two paintings, I had the same problem with values, what helped me was taking a photo of my painting and desaturating it in photoshop. It helps show where the values are wrong. I desaturated your painting, see how the shadows on the building dissappear? The colours are different but the values are the same.


It might help you doing a thumbnail with the main shapes blocked in, take a photo, desaturate it and check the values. Once both the colour and value look right you have a set of base colours to mix from for the painting. You'll soon grasp the relationship between value and colour. Hope this helps ; )
Is that your first sale? If so congrats ; )

06-11-2009, 07:32 AM
Roy, congratulations on jumping in and doing your plein air. I like it, it has a mystical look. Their is a small plein air event coming up soon that I have been uneasy about joining in. I will try to keep your experience in mind.

Joey, congratulations to you too on your sale.

06-11-2009, 07:38 AM

I was scared that people would stop and watch too. But people didn't pay much attention at all.

I like the way that you have rendered the trees in the background. They are loose and very tree like. I have the problem of rounding all my trees like a child, lol.

WOW! Thanks for that example. Finally a way to understand it, that I can understand and see. Thanks for posting that it will help me a lot.

Well, it is the first of MY paintings that I have sold for a profit, lol. I "sell" copies of masters all the time to family and friends, but it is normally just for the cost of the materials. So yes, it is my first REAL sale, lol.

Thanks again for all your help.


06-11-2009, 02:04 PM
Sorry to flood the site with this but this is a better picture.



06-15-2009, 01:18 PM
HI all :) love this thread, this is my very first post so please forgive me if i make a mistake :) great to see the work and love the history Carey! and i dig your wet carrier! :)
i teach plein air painting .. love it .. most of my students love the chance to just be out side having fun :)
i was so thrilled my first plein air painting in oil at 15 wanted to do it forever then circumstances i stopped..
it may not be the bet of my work but the joy and opportunity to be outside painting :) in fresh air is so grand and a treat:)
it can be exhausting..
also getting an organized set up is really important if you want to keep doing it a lot and not have excuses..
also gives you the opportunity to do quick sketches , set ups and take downs
location you kind have to pay attention to..scouting out helps
and colors i have found a few paints i love that ease and quicken my painting..
also when studying the maters of plein air look at the ones you like..there is light in the shadows not pure black.. its what makes things sing.. our eyes tend to see too much contrast, so force yourself to paint lighter than black.. make a certain color instead a deep blue a warm alizerin crimson ~ you'll see the change immediately.also i recommend an umbrella even in shade the added shade helps us to See correct values ...
you have no idea how bright it actually is out there...
and sun protection, lol warm in snow, etc:)
sorry i love this way to paint :) I am fortunate i have enough students that inspired me to make it a part of my life now :)

here is one of my recent paintings.. done while teaching.. and one I did of a sot i have been driving through for over 15 years! finally had a set up i could do just pull over do a fast sketch then break down quickly and be off again :)
i had a ton of indoor computer work today but rare clouds are her so i am off to paint soon i think :)

Happy Painting!

opps i cant post an image yet
ok ;)

06-15-2009, 02:00 PM
Hi All,

I spent last week in the North Carolina Mountains on family vacation and managed to sneak out and get three plein air paintings done along the way.

"Blue Valley Overlook" 6x8" oil on panel, about an hour.


This one I did from memory as I couldn't stay at the place where I saw this for fear of getting run over (narrow road).
"Whiteside Mountain Sunrise Impression" 6x8" oil on panel, about 1.5 hours


"Whitewater Falls" 11x14" oil on panel, about 4 hours. This one I managed to get set up early and quickly focused on the falls to get it firmly established before the light moved too much. That allowed me to get in everything else and then go back and add detail in the fall area.




06-15-2009, 02:13 PM
hi ;) ok maybe i can post now ;) some images, these are all the last 3 weeks.. the cliffs and ocean was while teaching.. the cows and red rocks by my cabin, so thrilled a dream come true after 22 years painting the cows ;)

8x8" my Monet's waterlillies ;)
i could paint this forever

22 year dream come true..many more to come

11x14 while teaching...

gorgeous on the road to my cabin
i'll paint there again
ok off soon to catch rare summer clouds in so cal
Happy Painting!

06-16-2009, 03:43 AM

I love your painting style. You have such a light touch. The waterfall is my favorite and it is absolutely gorgeous. I love how you seemingly paint all the details of a forest without having to paint every detail of the forest.


The use of color in your works is amazing and it is very reminiscent of Monet. I took a look at some of your works on your website and I love your figurative works too.


06-16-2009, 03:45 AM
Randy, I really like your soft touch in these, sort of mystical.

Katy, your colors are so fresh, I like how you have used them, thanks for sharing and welcome to WC and the oil forum.

06-16-2009, 10:50 AM
Attempt 1.
Take chair out into yard, carry paints and 3 brushes.
Slap 3 sketters on way.
Settle into chair,slap another sketter or fly, sun in eyes, get up move to shade.
Mistake, think sketter bed under chair biting me to death.
Get up walk back into house search for itch cream.
Will try again tomorrow but will put on swim suit and stand in the pool to paint. Hope with shades on can tell what colors really are. Oh well was fun to try..

06-16-2009, 01:04 PM
Thanks Joey and Becca! :)

Cat0075! :lol: :lol: Thanks for sharing your humorous story!

Welcome to the trials and tribulations of outdoor painting! The bugs are the worst!! If it ain't the "skeeters", it's the darn gnats or deer flies! And if they aren't biting, they're sticking to the painting! :mad: Which begs the question: would Monet have become a great painter had he been subjected to the insect hoards of the southeast? :confused: :D :D


06-19-2009, 05:05 AM
I still have a lot of work to go before I get to the point of being able to paint something that I can really be proud of

You ve done it already. Nice paintings Joey.

Nice colour use KW11. Randy thnx for sharing all those great paintings.

Good luck next time Cat75

06-20-2009, 10:30 PM
plein air attempt #45 (not sure)
practicing clouds


06-20-2009, 11:52 PM
Cat, I can relate.

Richard, lovely brushwork. Nice color.

06-21-2009, 04:05 AM
Great story cat.

You are far too kind Wetbob, thanks.

I like Red Ochre.

06-25-2009, 09:30 PM
Plein Air attempt #47 (or thereabouts)
Location : West Virginia
9"x12" (22.9 x 30.5cm) oil on panel

"Ellison Pond"


06-26-2009, 02:40 AM
Wow Red.Ochre I really love how the blue at the bottom just pops out at you. I really love your style of painting. Nice work.


06-26-2009, 03:13 AM
Richard, this one is truly exceptional, beautiful. Great job keeping your colors and values fresh.

Carey Griffel
06-27-2009, 01:52 PM
Randy, amazing light and atmosphere you have captured!

Katy, I really enjoy the freshness and colors of your work!

Richard, I love those clouds, and the movement in your second picture.


Carey Griffel
06-27-2009, 01:54 PM
A note: This thread is still open and I hope we see some more plein air work! But I am moving this thread to our Painting from the Masters subforum, as I realized maybe we should be using that forum for its intended purpose. :p


07-18-2009, 07:10 AM
Hi All,

Glad to see the thread back. I tried another Plein Air. This is the Chapel and pond from the village that I live in near Paris.



I messed up a bit on the drawing and didn't add the vine on the building but I guess I can't expect to be perfect, lol.

Back to the drawing board (literally, lol) . . .


07-18-2009, 11:46 PM
Joey, I love the rich, saturated color you bring to your paintings. Nice job.

07-19-2009, 04:22 AM
Thanks Becca. I wish I understood how not to do that though, lol. When I set out to paint this I was trying to paint something "understated." The colors seemed light outside, but when I got home I couldn't believe how different it looked (the colors also got dramatically darker as they dried). I guess I was also disappointed because the purpose of the painting was to try to NOT paint details, but I fell back on the bad habits that I was trying to change. Perhaps, sadly for me, I simply cannot change my painting style, it is what it is and I must try to come to terms with it.

07-19-2009, 07:56 AM
Joey, any of us can change our painting style to some degree. If color is what you want to work on, you can first just practice with color mixing on a scrap of canvas. Actually, I think many of us are practicing doing something new most of the time.

Carey Griffel
07-19-2009, 11:25 AM
Joey, good job! What a lovely scene and I think you particularly captured the water very well.

I know what you mean about the colors changing once you get it home and not looking like what you thought it did. (But take heart, at least it doesn't look like the mushroom painting I did years ago. :p)

Don't feel bad about falling back to old habits--struggling against poor habits to form (hopefully) better ones is something we all face. :)

What sizes of brushes did you use?


07-19-2009, 12:05 PM
Thanks for the encouragement Carey and Becca, it really helps.

I use my pallet knife a lot when working outdoors, but the brushes I used on this were mainly #4 and #6 flats.


07-19-2009, 12:21 PM
I recently saw a documentary on Chaim Soutine and really love his work, so I thought that I would give one of his plein aires a try. It might also help me to break some of my bad habits and paint a little bit more freely.

Here is the piece that I will be copying:
L'escalier rouge à Cagnes
oil on canvas
73 x 54 cm

I will copy it at its original size.


07-19-2009, 03:11 PM
Joey, that is an impressive undertaking.

Carey Griffel
07-19-2009, 03:53 PM
Joey, I'm excited to see your rendition...that is a painting I had never seen before, in fact. I can see how it would be beneficial in helping you learn to see "shapes", perhaps, rather than "things".


07-22-2009, 10:29 AM
I got the canvas built and the picture drawn. Next I just have to prep the canvas with two coats of transparent gesso.


I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew, lol. It seems very complicated and there seem to be a lot of loose strokes that will be tough to replicate. But I love a challenge, so . . . wish me luck, lol.


Carey Griffel
07-22-2009, 02:56 PM
Good luck, Joey! :D I'm sure you'll do great! Can't wait to see what happens with paint...


07-23-2009, 07:47 PM
I just returned from a week's vacation on Lake Erie and all I did all week were plein air paintings! It was a lot of fun and the weather was fantastic- 70's and no rain all week. I am a member of OPAs and had a Paint out and Wet Paint Sale on Sunday -- sold two, including the small one below-- so that was the highlight of the week. But there is no way I will bore you with all the pieces. I'll just post a few of my better ones. When I paint plein air I am usually just going for an impression- no detail-- because I always aim to be finished within two hours so the light hasn't changed dramatically.

6x6 oil on panel

20 x 16 oil on canvas

07-23-2009, 08:07 PM
Hi, Nora, so nice to know that you had a fun and productive vacation. These plein air of yours are wonderful, I especially like the second. I like your use of color in it.

07-24-2009, 10:18 PM
Thanks, Becca- it is my favorite from the vacation. Also was the most fun to paint-- a beautiful breeze and no humidity. Just a perfect day.

Carey Griffel
07-28-2009, 10:56 AM
Nora, those are fabulous! What a great time it sounds like you had.


07-29-2009, 03:44 AM
Coincidentally, I've just painted my first plein air painting today! I'm about to post the result in the "Landscapes" forum.

07-30-2009, 03:10 PM
I've been enjoying (and lurking in) this thread - thought I'd jump in and say how much I love seeing what everyone comes up with, there's a lot of nice work here :thumbsup: . I tried some plein air painting earlier in the year - wasted a few canvas boards I should say! But I'm not ready to give up yet... went out last Sunday and finally ended up with something passable. Maybe I'll even get up the guts to show it here!
I'm glad this theme will continue through August, looking forward to seeing more plein air works... keeps me inspired :clap:


08-05-2009, 01:19 AM
Hi! I'm new to the oil painting forum - I usually hang out in the figure. I have always wanted to do plein air. In fact, I signed up for a one day class last spring. I was so excited! We were going to go out and paint in our local national park (Joshua Tree National Park that is), but the day of the class there were wind advisories due to 50+mph winds - not a good day to be setting up an easel. We ended up painting inside from some post cards in the visitors center. That was not what I had in mind! Oh well, I still learned some good things. I tried to go out on my own shortly after that, but again it was just too windy. I am a teacher, so I knew summer was coming and then I would have a chance. Well, summer is almost over and I was yet to get outside as of today. Yesterday I cheated and looked out my window (it was 104 degrees out), so the first painting I'm showing is that one. Today was a little bit cooler (only about 94 - I am in the desert) with some clouds which doesn't happen very often. I set up in the shade and did the second piece I am showing you. Both are small - 6X8". I haven't done a landscape since high school and that was a really long time ago! I would appreciate any advice anyone might have to offer. I know they are not at the level of so many of you who are posting, but I do appreciate constructive feedback.



Carey Griffel
08-05-2009, 10:48 AM
Welcome, Krista, and thanks for joining in! Your two paintings are very well done, I love the colors, especially how you have done the grass.

If I had to give any critique on the first one, it would be to suggest adding more detail in the foreground. As it stands, the composition almost seems to be falling forward because of the light values there and lack of definition in the foreground. Also, this causes your interest to be entirely in the upper half of the painting, adding a bit of interest would make for a more dynamic composition. (Though it seems to me that this is more of a "study" in colors and textures and subject, so for that purpose, I would not really worry about trying to get everything perfect...sometimes you just need to work on some aspects of painting without worrying about them all. :))

The second image is really beautiful! I think all the elements are very well done and that's about all I can say about that. :D


08-05-2009, 11:43 AM
Thanks Carey! It's really hot again today, so I'm not sure if I will get outside. I had a great time doing these and can't wait to do more. You're right about the composition of the first one - I wasn't happy with it so I just looked at it as practice which is about what I consider most of my paintings these days! Thanks again!

08-08-2009, 02:43 PM
All right, here's my plein air attempt. I thought it was OK while I was outside working on it, but the colors looked so different once I got it inside! The background trees look too bright to me now, and the flowers are sort of flat (there's more color/contrast than what shows in the photo - just not enough).
I figure it was good practice for the next one :lol:



08-08-2009, 04:05 PM
Callie, don't be too hard on yourself, this is a very good attempt.

08-08-2009, 04:24 PM
Thank you Becca.
I think I learned a little with this, hopefully, more outings will lead to some improvement. I was going to get out tomorrow and give it another try, but it's going to be close to 100 degrees here. Just might have to wait for fall!


08-08-2009, 04:40 PM
Callie, I know what you mean about the heat, it is 103 here today. I had intended to do a painting a day, guess I will try to start next week. I do hope you can get out again soon, you are off to a great start.

08-08-2009, 05:58 PM
Fortunately, I took a lot of photos at the park I was painting at. Maybe I'll do some "faux" plein air till the heat breaks. Thanks for the encouragement. Let's hope for cooler weather soon!

08-11-2009, 11:25 AM
Finally, this morning the winds were calm and it wasn't unbearably hot. The sky was hazy, so the light was cool. Here is my plein air attempt #4, 8x10.


08-11-2009, 08:08 PM
Hi Becca,
Good subject and composition-- however the values are almost all the same. If you lightened the background or darkened the foreground a bit, adding contrast, it would be a very nice piece.
(Just my opinion- if you are happy don't touch it!)

08-11-2009, 11:49 PM
Nora, I agree about the values. I painted this in deep shade and was a little surprised when I looked at it in light. Up until the last moment my cherub had been darker up until my final brushstroke. Poor decision on my part. I may try to take it back to its original value and see what I get. Thanks.

08-12-2009, 01:10 AM
Here it is after a few fixes; that is this is more what I was going for. It culd still use work. Next time I need to try to get the values right the first time.


08-13-2009, 04:50 PM
I'm really enjoying this thread. It is great how everyone helps out and gives advice. I recently attempted my first one. And during this, I learned several things I thought I might share.

#1 - do NOT drink lots of coffee if you are not going to be near a restroom.
#2 - do NOT pick a grey building on an overcast day. (makes for a very grey painting and no fun shadows.)
#3 - DO bring some larger brushes - even if you normally use smaller ones, they help spead things up a bit.
#4 - DO check your chair /easel height before you leave home.
#5 - DO bring a comfortable chair.
#6 - DO bring something (paper towel/rag) to wipe up spills

Believe it or not, I loved it!


08-13-2009, 05:28 PM
OWP, great painting and great advice.

08-13-2009, 08:58 PM

That is a good painting for a gray day and yes-- I have found plein air highly addictive!


I like it better-- the color especially.

Here is a recent 2 hour effort. Values definitely could have been better.



08-14-2009, 12:16 AM
Nora, you have captured a summer day, and I don't see a real problem with the values. What size is this one? It looks large.

I actually ordered some plein air supplies today. The weather is supposed to cool soon and I hope to get more practice.

08-14-2009, 08:15 AM
Becca - thank you
Nora - I agree, very addictive. I'm going out to do it again tomorrow. Going to paint a local old iron bridge! Should be fun. And the weather is suppose to be much better so hopefully, not such a grey painting! I like your summer day painting. You captured the feeling so well!

08-17-2009, 05:39 PM
2nd plein air attempt... This Saturday's weather was much better than my first time out. This is one of 2 remaining iron bridges in Hancock County. About 3 hours here, swatting at bugs as much as painting. I did learn another valuable lesson though... always bring bug spray, even if you think you wont need it, you will! Oh, and don't forget your mahl stick, you never know when you'll need to paint a sign!


08-17-2009, 05:48 PM
OWP, very nice play of light and just the right amount of detail. You seem to be a natural.

08-18-2009, 09:02 AM
Becca - Thank you! You are always so kind. I don't know about natural. It feels very un-natural to not put in details or not go back and adjust it. Painting loosely is difficult!

08-19-2009, 09:49 AM
I went out yesterday after work and did my first ever plein aire painting. :D
I cannot wait to get out and do more. This was a really fun and humbling experience. Plein aire is a lot more difficult than working in the studio! This effort took about 2 hours.



08-19-2009, 12:49 PM
stapelaid, I love it. You really captured the textures and light. Thanks for sharing.

08-29-2009, 07:53 PM
I had the opportunity to paint with Stan Herd today at a local winery to promote our local scenic byway. The painting is 11x14.



08-29-2009, 09:11 PM
I think you did a great job on this one Becca! Looks like you had a nice day to be outside too.

08-29-2009, 09:46 PM
Thanks Nora, you are right, for August it was unbelievable here. Moderate temps and a light breeze.

08-31-2009, 10:34 PM
My final plein air for August.... oil on linen mounted to hardboard


08-31-2009, 11:40 PM

09-01-2009, 12:08 AM
Nora-Love the colors in this and the sunlight on the background trees/field.
Becca-we've had some of that cool weather here too. I got out Sunday and painted with our local plein-air group. This could be addictive!


09-01-2009, 04:42 PM
Thanks Becca and Callie! :)

10-04-2009, 06:57 AM
I am also a believer in 'Plein air' painting.

Some might argue though, because I use it as a means to an end. Most of the work I do outside is for record purposes only. I want to get a feeling for the place, the mood, weather and atmosphere. It's not impossible to carry this back into the studio, for a more considered work. Also, for some reason, I have more success 'plein air' with pastel than any other medium.

When I say a 'means to an end' by the way, I don't mean that I dislike Plein Air, On the contrary, I find nothing more liberating than sloshing paint around without worrying about the floor, the furnishings or the drapes! :D

John :thumbsup: