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Old 04-29-2012, 03:34 PM
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First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

I did it! I did it! I finally actually got my porchade box finished and went out to Hypoluxo Scrub area. This has become my favorite place.

http://www.pbcgov.com/erm/natural/na...ypoluxo-scrub/

It was pouring rain but there was a short break that let me get out of the car and up onto the towers. These are covered by boards that the water leaks down through, more in some spots than others.

Please ignore the sky on this. Of course it needs to be better and of course I'm not sure how to do it but I don't want to mess with it here at home and it has some great rain drop stains on it from a huge gust of wind that sent water over me to remind me of how crazy I am.

Ok, after the rain slowed down and the homeless guy woke up and headed out I got my gear set up. There is so many areas here to paint! The trees, the trails, the flowers.. everywhere I looked I saw something to paint. But I picked a trail that I could see from the tower mainly because that one particular spot was dryer than the other spots.

My husband came along. That's not a place I'd go to by myself though by 9 or so everyone who's there overnight clear out and us 'day people' arrive. A few people came to visit and walk the trails and a group of firemen poured out of their fire truck, geared themselves up, and did some good walking up and down stairs with their 80 lb packs. My husband shot their photos and talked to them a bit.

So here is my first plein air. 8x10 acrylic on stretch canvas. I had to paint fast.

I appreciated, welcome and will eat up every word of CC you can pass my way. Thank you!






I learned a lot. My easel WILL hold steady in guests of wind..yes I need clips to prevent that same wind from blowing my stay wet pallets over onto my hand... and I need way more paper towels. But all in all, everything worked perfectly. Now I've got to get some painting done!






Porchade box: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?t=1095952
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:48 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Looks good to me with a small crop of the sky.

Doug
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:13 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Wow, that's actually a very good compliment. But you weren't suppose to look at the sky tsk tsk LOL

And I'd appreciate it if people would tear this apart. I think the dark ends to abruptly on the path. That sky really is horrible. I didn't know how to make it dark (without black) to have the bushes/trees stand out. Maybe I should have darkened blue then lightened it up. I need to play with these colors more. And I need to figure out clouds. There should have been more definition over on the middle right, I think, but I'm not sure.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:50 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Good effort for a first try! I didn't show anyone my first, I was too embarrassed!!!

There are many here, much more skilled than me, who can give you lots of good advice. I will just focus on the greenery because, well there's just soooo much of it and it's sooo green! I think you need more variety. You might think of varying the shapes -- I know this is hard to do en plein air because there is so much to take in, but maybe focus on just a few different kinds of plants and try to put them in. If necessary, make them a little more quirkly than IRL - who wants to look at a perfectly round bush? Twisted trees are so much more fun!

Also, vary your greens. Use red to dull some of them and warm them a bit. Use some warm yellows (like cad yellow) and cool yellows in some areas (I like lemon yellow or zinc yellow). The rule is that greens that are further away should be bluer and the ones closest to the viewer should be warmer (adding red and or yellow). Of course there are exceptions to this rule - sometimes there is a brightly lit field in the distance that just has to be painted warmly - but overall, it helps give the illusion of depth. Also, focus on the individual plants - are they all the same shade of green and the same shape? Are they, in fact, really green? sometimes our eyes tell us leaves are green because that's how we think of leaves, but they might be purple, pink, blue... that's where observation comes in. I do see some lights and darks in your greenery and that's good, but try also varying your colour temperature (warm vs cool) and add some variety in there! Oh, and vary your brushstrokes as well.

As for clouds and skies, yes, they're always a challenge en plein air as the darn things just won't hold still for you. You might think of challenging yourself to doing quick 10-15 minute studies every night. I did this for a while and got to be pretty good at getting a sky down fast. I used small (4 x 6) cheap canvas pads. It was also very liberating and a great deal of fun! After 15 minutes, I would force myself to stop and start a new one. Evening skies especially change so fast. I would sometimes do 4-5 per night, working until I could no longer see what I was doing (I guess technically those were nocturnes!). It is a very useful exercise.

And most of all, keep painting!
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:01 AM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Thank you so much for your insight. I know I rushed it. Nervousness maybe, rain definitely. I can see what your saying about the plants. They're pretty bushy even though that's what they were; thick bushes. I'm going to go back to the same area and select three things from the view to emphasize and leave the rest hinted at. I'll also take your advice on the color. I mixed the wrong colors, that's evident now. I will also take more time even if it is raining and there's handsome firemen passing me every 3 minutes Hopefully the next time I go back it won't be raining.

The skies here in Florida are absolutely fantastic! I've been photographing them for several years now and I want to recreate the splendor in paint. I'm going to take your advise in this as well. It sounds like a lot of fun! I have to start from scratch; like I did when I started painting last fall. First, figure out how to hold the brush and what brush to use, then how to move the brush and what colors to use. If it's raining I'll use my photos indoors. Unfortunately the photos are usually of sunrises. Gray and white fluffy clouds usually don't photograph well. But there's bumps and puffs in many of the sunrise shots as well.

I have a pad of acrylic/water color paper. I've only used it once and discovered that is a whole new ball game. But these skies wouldn't be for keeping so if the paper curls and smears and does odd things it's no big deal. I can use that and start tonight! I've already called dibs on that park bench near the pond here at my apartment complex!
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:25 AM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Good for you WebCat! Sounds like you're taking the bull by the horns so to speak! Please show us some of your sky studies! You can see a few of mine on my old blog: http://artpleinairchantal.blogspot.ca/ - scroll down and look for "Études crépusculaires" on the right-hand side. Lots of grey skies and some sunsets, all painted in 15 min. or less from my back deck.

Another option is to do some of your skies from a window if you have a pretty good clear view from somewhere. Or even from your car if it's raining, but the clouds are big and dark and just beg to be painted! Also, for plein air painting in the rain, a good umbrella works well. You can buy expensive ones, but I picked one up a couple of years ago from Wal-Mart for like 6$. I think it was meant to attach to a chair or something, but I was able to put it on my easel. I have painted in pouring rain under my umbrella!
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:27 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Webcat ~ I also choose to NOT ignore the sky becaue I think that the lower portion brings some atmospheric distance ( perspective ) to your painting. I planned to talk about more variety in your greens but I note that Chantal has already touched on that subject very well. I like hearing how much you are already enjoying this outdoor experience and hope you'll keep going forward and showing us your progress. Dan and Judith
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:51 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

I suspect people here are starting to think I'm nuts. I've been staring at skies as often as I could today but unfortunately did no painting. A Florida downpour is pretty heavy, there's always flash floods, and I only have an hour or so after work of daylight. I will post my practice on this thread. Good, bad and ugly, it'll go here.

I have always thought reaching a goal is grand but getting there is a blast.

That bottom edge of the cloud could have done better as lighter than the bushes but it wasn't that way. You would think it should be that way but Florida skies have a mind of their own. Long story short; I just wasn't observant enough. Mix more color, take more time, pay more attention.

and practice.. I'll be back
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:23 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

The sky goes through several hues or variations of color from the horizon to zenith. These variations are subtle to see. The variations usually follow this formula, but can change due to atmospheric condition. Closest to the horizon will be warmer colors that can appear orange or reddish orange. The colors then start to change from warmer to cooler such as a warmer blue to cooler greenish blue to blue violet. Try experimenting with this idea, you'll see that with a little practice you'll be able to add a great deal of perspective to your sky. Don't be afraid to experiment with greens, yellows, orange and magenta when mixing color for your skies.

On the composition site, there is a wonderful article by Johannes Vloothuis that I highly recommend reading. I refer back to it often.

I think your painting has some great elements, especially how you captured the misty quality of the day. I particularly like your painting style. I don't think your sky is as bad as that. The colors are good. Keep painting.

Janice
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:29 AM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Thank you for all your comments. I'm going to check out that article.

It was raining. The mist was really thick LOL. Everything in the sky was gray. That was absolutely, positively not how that sky looked and I just threw the sky on to get to the bushes. I didn't have a lot of time. (If you've never been to Florida I was up high, with water dripping everywhere, and watching huge, and I mean huge, thunder clouds rolling in off the ocean) I should have toned the white with blue instead of that dark almost black purple and pretend it had that color. I didn't bring black but on this sky that might have worked better.

I learned some things though. I need bifocals. I can't keep putting my glasses on and taking them off, on, off, on off.... and don't paint when the water is blowing on the canvas...

I'm going back on Sunday. I'll paint it again and this time it won't be raining. The sky will be blue. I've been practicing my clouds and I've learned something there too... I've been trying to paint like I have oils when I'm using acrylics.

I'll post my second attempt here too.
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:58 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Ok, It's a week later and this time it's sunny. I've been practicing clouds. They were turning out horrible until I realized I'm trying oil paint techniques on my acrylics. My practices one's got a wee bit better and then Sunday arrived and it was time to go out.

When I got there the sky was completely blue without a cloud in sight. Just my luck eh? Well, after I put the sky down I looked up and clouds had slipped in along the horizon. Yippee! so now I have clouds. I didn't get that fade out edge too well but it's a good start I feel.

Here's version number 2
and a reference photo. This was probably not the best scene to pick to paint but at the time it was the driest!



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Old 05-07-2012, 06:10 AM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

I want to thank everyone who commented. I listened and tried to put all your ideas into practice. The clouds are a break through for me and I want to thank everyone who helped with that.

As you can see in the reference photo there wasn't a cloud in the sky when I started out. By the time I left a lot had rolled in.

I didn't achieve the fade out at the bottom of the clouds nor did I get the individual crowding of the bushes etc. but I did try to isolate specific trees/bushes and make the scene a little more interesting.

C.C. is, of course, very welcome. I think I've achieved more than I thought I would and got valuable experience. 1. don't paint in the rain unless it's a really cool street scene at the turn of the century 2. pick something much more interesting and 3. maybe the most important thing, I may not have the stamina, health wise, for outside in Florida. I have to try more to see if my not feeling too well is just the bug going around or if it's too much heat. It sucks getting old LOL
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:08 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Better! The sky has variations and the clouds are a good beginning. I also like what you did with the distant greenery and some of the variety in the foreground. Keep working on it! For your next project, you might consider keeping it simple again with the composition (as you did this time), but also finding a scene with less green. We plein air painters often dread painting all that green! The pink in the lower part of the sky makes a nice complimentary to your light, distant greens though. But overall, you have a nice painting here which shows vast improvment over the first version!

As for the plein air heat thing, an umbrella helps if you don't have one. I prefer a large umbrella/parasol clipped to my easel covering my easel, palette and a good part of my body to a hat which only protects your head. Alternatively, you can seek out open sided shelters which look out onto interesting views (touristy spots usually have some). But honestly, painting in intense heat doesn't appeal to me much either. I would rather paint in the middle of winter in below freezing temperatures standing in my showshoes! You can dress up, but can only dress down so much LOL! Also think about getting out very early or late in the day when the sun is not high in the sky and mostly, bring LOTS of bottled water to drink! It's easy to get absorbed in your painting and not feel the heat getting to you. It will help a lot if you stay hydrated.

And yeah, it really sucks getting old .
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:09 PM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

I sure picked a tough scene to try for my first plein air. It was raining so I was constrained in location. I should have called it off but I'm very stubborn

This is the tower I was in. It's looking from about where the photo is pointed to back towards the towers. The ocean is to the right. I was on the lower level on the left.



There's a nice sea breeze, shade and, for the first day, some shelter from the rain. Unfortunately the view is difficult to pick things out and still have it look a lot like it is. I was out there about 9 am too. But this is Florida, the temps was around 88F. I always carry water. I'm an old hand at nature photography and that habit works well with my acrylics. The only thing better is that the humidity is so high that my paints stayed wetter longer than in the house!

I will probably go back again but this time get down where the flowers are. But for this I had to go back and try another painting of the same scene. The clouds, arrangement, colors etc. needed to be tackled.

Thank you for your encouragement!

(I think that little tree/bush to the right would have come out a bit more with a very dark background. I love picking about my paintings! I'll never learn any other way)
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:50 AM
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Re: First Plein Air - CC is very welcome

Ah, I see you already know every piece of advice necessary for plein air painting. One more: switch to oil. Just kidding, but plein air painting in acrylic is harder IMO. I've done both.

But let's talk about that bush on the lower right. I like it! My eye went there, but maybe not quite enough. And of course there's the whole composition thing where your eye is supposed to be led around the canvas, but that's not my strong point, so no advice there. You do mention that it might have popped out more if you had used a very dark background. But in the photo, the background behind the trunk of the bush is actually sand so not darker, but lighter. Which is why it took me a while to find the tree trunk in your painting and click that this is a separate shape. Now the top of the bush has some lighter leaves which helps give it shape. But also think about warm/cool and maybe even some complimentaries to help your greens pop. A reddish- brown green (lots of those in the background) behind a yellow-green for example. But again, green against green is always hard. Think of it in terms of various masses requiring various shades of green. I read somewhere that you should never use the same colour in different parts of your painting. Always mix a new colour.

Keep at it!
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