Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Plein Air, May 17 at Sunset Harbor, Pastel, 7" x 8"

I find plein air painting most challenging.  I keep at it, and I do think I'm learning quite a bit.  Some of the sketches aren't turning out too badly now, a good thing.

This one proved to be an excellent learning tool.  I find when using blue for skies and water, it can either be too "blue", or too "green".  Violet seems to be the perfect "calming agent".  I know it works great for calming the greens, and I'm finding that in small amounts (sometimes imperceptible to the viewer) it works wonders with blue.

Here is my first version of the scene, done on location.  I was pretty happy (for a plein air......) with the vegetation.  The water, not so much.  It was moving water, so there were no reflections.  Because of the light there was lots of sparkle on the water, very difficult to capture.  I'll keep trying... I found myself wanting to use a "greener" blue, thus the turquoise choice.  I thought it might marry the green of the landscape with the water.  Well, not so much.  In looking at this at home, I had a hard time reconciling the water with the painting.  For some reason, the sky works better to me, the water seemed a bit too much turquoise. 

So...........against most everything I've read about plein air, especially the statements that say, once you're done, don't go back into it in the studio....... I went back into it in the studio.  I have to say, that although there are valid reasons for not going back into the painting (I've heard them all....), for me right now I much prefer going back into the work.  My reasoning is that I'm not viewing any of these works as anything "precious", they are all learning tools.  If I go back into it, while my memory is still somewhat fresh, I can experiment to see what would work better for next time.  In the "calm" of my studio, with a clear head and no distractions, I can apply what I think might work, sort of let the pastel dust fly.  I really don't care if I "ruin" the sketch, it really doesn't matter to me.  The freedom to experiment on something not precious for me is a really good thing.

Okay, here is the first version:

 © by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved

And here is where I'm at now:
© by Christine DiMauro, all rights reserved
I confess that I wiped out the entire bottom half, all the water.  I ended up with a turquoise underpainting, which was fine.  There is plenty of turquoise in the sky, and it does need to be in the water, just not so much.  I then went in with tones of blues and violets........ I can see how using violet in the water has helped to marry the water with the landscape.  I used violet in the landscape portion, so adding it to the water in subdued tones does makes a big difference.  I originally did have violet up near the shore line in the water, which I left, but I also added it to the lighter areas near the foreground. I also added tones of green and warm red in the water, again in an attempt to marry the scene.  This is by no means a masterpiece, but I do feel that the exercise was extremely valuable, so to that end it is a huge success.


Donna T said...

I like the changes you made, Chris, and thanks for explaining why you made them. There is a better sense of harmony now. It's no wonder we fiddle with plein airs when we get home. Sometimes you really need to have time to figure out how the painting could be better.

Christine DiMauro said...

Thanks Donna! Yes, I need all the time in the world when it comes to plein air. I find I can get very distracted, and overwhelmed with all that information. I fiddle with them to learn, I don't view them as anything other than a means to an end, if I think of them as precious I won't get anywhere with the process. Each one is disposable, and sometimes I get one that is somewhat okay...lol... plein aire is the bane of my existence...lol...

David King said...

You did a great job here Chris. I don't subscribe to the theory that you shouldn't tweak a plein air piece on the studio, there are plenty of pro artists who do, you just gotta be careful to not go too far! The changes you made are definitely an improvement. You've conquered all other modes of pastel painting, I'm sure you'll achieve plein air painting skills to your satisfaction as well.

Christine DiMauro said...

Thanks David. I do find that tweaking is a great way to learn, especially when trying to figure out plein air. There is so much going on, between the sun, wind, temperature, the abundance of information, bugs, etc. I find myself easily distracted from the task at hand. I am not at all worried about getting a painting to frame, for me I need to be able to figure this out, and to apply what I've learned to studio work. If I actually get something really good from a plein air outing, that's a bonus. I really do find plein aire very difficult, but I'm stubborn, and I'll keep at it. The more I do it the more I'm starting to enjoy it, so that's a good thing!