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Plein Air Painting in a Nutshell August 16, 2011

Posted by Bev Bunker in Uncategorized.

Its been a very busy summer! It was my intention to take a holiday out to British Columbia to paint en plein air. I wanted to get as much done as possible in the short time I would be there. I did accomplish doing 8 paintings in a week and each one had something interesting about the image. As plein air goes, they are meant to be information gatherings. You get as much as you can paint in approximately 1.5 hrs. depending on the time of day because you need to catch the light. Early morning may be as little as 20 minutes before it changes. I found that after 3:30 pm the same situation presented. My best time of day was from 11:00 until around 2:00 pm. if I wanted to work longer. I personally like the longer amounts of time, but I love the light when the shadows present the greatest length to give more contrast.

During my painting times I was fortunate to experience mostly sunny days. I set up quickly and began to work. There was no noticing any conversations or other people being around me once I got into that zone. I really enjoy that place – it is focused, intense, and absolutely meditative. All my decisions for use of color are intuitive (it helps using a very small palette or only about 5 colors plus white).  There simply isn’t time to debate ‘what color is that?’ Compositions are simple with as many large masses as possible, and details are kept out of the work. Plein air painting is a record of that day at that time. I have personally found that doing this kind of painting has really helped my studio paintings because one must really pay attention to what nature is holding out to the artist – a complete package. I didn’t look for inspiration, I found inspiration wherever I was.



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