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To Really See June 28, 2011

Posted by Bev Bunker in Uncategorized.

Mount Rundle

I haven’t had a lot of time to be in my studio in the past couple of months. I’ve been enjoying the experience of painting outdoors, directly on site. This is called en plein air. I had encountered a few opportunities in the last two years to experience plein air painting, and although I didn’t have any knowledge of what to do I still tried it out. To my wonderment I really, really enjoyed it!  After getting all my gear together and setting out, then getting sunburnt, getting eaten by mosquitoes, having the wind blow my easel over and dump my wet palette into the dirt, I decided I loved it and wanted to do more of it. This is precisely what I have been attempting since then….as weather conditions suit me. (Wind is not your friend!)

To really see color in the landscape is to be in a natural surrounding no matter what the weather, spending some time just looking before I start with the paints. I was amazed at what I could see especially in the shadow areas. Light really changes the hues in the varying greens and pulls out the subtle yellows, oranges, purples, blues, etc. that a photo cannot record.  A photo will also record shadows as mostly dark but without distinctions.  Paying attention to these nuances quite literally makes everything come alive in a painting. These nuances, when carefully added into your work even when in the studio, bring excitement, vibrancy and interest into the scene with only the correct placement of color.

I am learning to capture these natural essences as directly seen by my eyes, as often as I can get out. The point is not to have a great painting but rather to record everything I see as an expression of a present-moment experience of mine, obviously through the use of color and texture with paint. These small paintings (I generally work 8″ x 10″ on gessoed, toned, masonite boards) can be used as references for further paintings in the studio or just be kept as they are. I record the date, location, time of day and year on the back.  When viewing them at other times all the remembrance of the experience comes back. I anticipate my studio paintings to get better because of these plein air excursions. The thing to do to really see is to get out there, no excuses, and just look.



1. Glen Larson - September 19, 2011


Really like the way that you have cropped the mountain so that the top is off the board.


Bev Bunker - September 19, 2011

Thanks Glen. Its important to let some things ‘go off the page’ as it gives the viewer a more interesting perspective of spacial relationships. Cropping is always exciting for me when using my photos. It allows me an opportunity to engage with many ‘views’ I can find to work with on one photo. The difficulty is then to choose which one to work with first!

2. Glen Larson - September 20, 2011

Yes, off the board or page creates interest, as does empty space.

Looking at the profile of the mountain, what can be seen,to me it is more like Three Sisters than Rundle,

3. Bev Bunker - September 20, 2011

That’s interesting, isn’t it? Just making a small adjustment can make things look different than what they really are. I think life itself is like this; change your perspective and things can hopefully look better (or not, sometimes!).

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