Bumps along the way

What we (I) think is so fascinating in our painting journey and its creative process is the difference between beginning this creative endeavor, plein air oil painting, and other creative things that we have done in the past.  Take for example, knitting. When one  first learns to cast on and make a, oh, I don’t know, a square dish cloth, and the stitches are not even or the lines straight, no one said, “Uh, you really should not be a knitter.”  Or when we were first learning to cook, folks didn’t say, ” Ummm, cooking – really not your thing.”

It is different for some reason when you share a painting. I’m not sure if it is because of the museum type experience where art is to be critiqued  and judged at first glance either ” I like it or I don’t like it”, or if there is little leeway for “critics” to understand learning and improving as one goes on.

This has been my experience as a beginning painter, and one that I wasn’t really prepared for.  I think this is really important to understand if you take up oil painting.   Be prepared or prepare yourself for those words that could possibly temporarily derail  you in your oil painting journey.

We have found several things that work for us  to counteract the unintended or intended criticism of a beginning artist.   The first is laughter.   Really, really important.  Every time we go out,  Catherine and I usually have a good laugh at some aspect of our work:  either the easel falls over,   an aspect of the painting appears to be painted on by a deranged person ( how does that happen??) or  just  laughing at the pure joy of being able to be outside and believe that it is possible to capture some of the beauty around us.

Another technique that works for me is to find a painting buddy or another person who may not want to paint, but could go out and read, or knit! with you.   The camaraderie and collaboration with another is really important to keep the spirit of patience and practice alive.

And finally, always, always find something in your work, even if it is  2 inch square that you like and focus on that .

Strada Easel and Kelty Redwing 44 Pack -Catherine

Here is my new Strada Easel and Kelty Redwing Pack.  I love them, (a birthday present from my wonderful husband, Philip!).   Click here to go to Strada Easel.  The Kelty Redwing 44 Pack is recommended by Strada and they know what they are talking about.  The pack is great and fits everything I need.  Many thanks to Orleans Camera for helping me find the right tripod.  Click here to go to Orleans Camera.

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Yarmouth Port -Catherine

Out of the archives!

A spray with retouch varnish and I’m going to give this July scene another try.  Even though this morning is barely 50º (degrees).

 

 

I wanted to use My Art Cocoon wet paint carrier with my Strada Easel.  Since this wet paint carrier is wider than the easel’s metal support bracket, I wrapped a small bungee around the My Art Cocoon and the Strada cavas holder.  Back to front.

bungee wrapped

bungee wrapped

back to front

back to front

The bungee hooks held nicely to the metal bracket at the top of the easel.  I was able to paint and then carry my painting in my pack without any mishaps!

 

 

Yarmouth Port -Catherine

Yarmouth Port -Catherine

 

 

 

Magnolia blossoms -Catherine

It’s hard to believe that at 6:30 a.m., the temperature is 39º this late in April!  Being an optimist, I thought to myself, “if it were early March, I’d be thinking it was a pretty nice day!”  The good news is that the blooms on the magnolia tree are a sign that spring is here!

After toning my 12 x 12 canvas panel, I decided to start painting the negative space with some sky color in the distance.

trying for better results with a toned canvas

trying for better results with a toned canvas

magnolia tree

magnolia tree

I’m only going to work with a few colors and hope I get a nice feeling.

I wanted to paint a group of blossoms with only a scattering showing details.

Toning my canvas is something I don’t always do.  I did today and I like the way I could map out the light and dark areas for my composition.

magnolia -Catherine 24apr15

ready to add some blossoms  -Catherine

I did have a mishap this morning…  It was windy, and I didn’t take the time to weigh down my easel (you know where this is going!).  After I picked up my stuff, and brushed off the sand and grass, it was time to pack up.   The blossoms with have to be added another day.  But, this was a great morning!

Fits and Starts

Although the title of this blog, Practice and Patience Plein Air, was thoughtfully chosen because it embodies our journey -this winter, I  haven’t been able to practice as much.

The lesson of practice and patience was reinforced again last Saturday morning at Salt Pond Landing.  Click here for Salt Pond Visitor Center information.

Because I haven’t been able to paint outdoors for a couple of months, I felt very rusty that first morning out and fumbled a bit getting everything set up.  Frustration set in as   as we attempted to capture the scene in front of us.  Thankfully, it was the first really spring day of the season and just having the sun shining on our faces and on the water  was a huge inspiration.  As I wrote in my last post, I wanted to try a palette knife in place of  a brush to practice layering color on the canvas.     Combining this “foreign” technique ( although with my level of experience, all of the techniques could be considered foreign) with being rusty painting outside  was daunting to say the least.

To overcome that feeling of “Oh brother, this is so hard”  we decided when we were both finished to say prop the paintings on the rocks and to each say one thing that we liked about our own paintings and one thing that we liked about each others.  Here are those paintings and a short transcript of what we said.  We then packed up our stuff and hiked back to the car with smiles on our faces.

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Catherine’s paintings

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Britt’s paintings

I said that I really liked the distance/perspective that Catherine painted in the left one and for the  right one, I liked the building and the water.  For mine, I liked the sky in both.

I love the use of Britt’s bold use of color, and for mine, I liked the wide brush stroke on the lower right of the painting, trying to suggest the curve in the shoreline.  -Catherine

Perspective Lessons in humility

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We wanted to paint a challenge.

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Attempt

Trying to keep true to our motto and our recent experience that practice is everything, we decided to go out the very next day to paint a more challenging composition.   Well… challenging it was.

And what this painting demonstrated is how even the ineffective results prove to be such learning and inspiring experiences.   After this day, I had to travel away again and all the time I was on the plane, all I could think of was how I would have tried to change the perspective of this: remembering the horizon line,  flattening out the rows of raspberry bushes, the garden, well actually repainting the whole scene.

What is redeeming though is that even these experiences of challenging scenes and unsatisfying attempts teach so much and reinforce the idea of continuing to practice.

painting at Marion's