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Thursday
Feb282008

Plein Air

View Through the Trees
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

My friend Mary and I did a day of plein air painting together. My husband was confused as to why artists paint together, especially once I described that were set up far apart and barely spoke to each other all day except to share a couple snacks. But I explained to him that it's like meeting up with a workout partner: Someone to help you have the discipline to get out there, but it's not necessarily a social event. In any case, we had fun together, if only in the mostly non-verbal, co-solitary way two artists can have fun together. Hmmm.... "co-solitary", I just made that up and I think it's a good word!

Anyway, this first painting of mine (above) is very unfinished and I would have liked to work on it longer but after a couple hours all the shadows shifted around and absolutely everything had changed. I don't have much experience painting outside, and how anyone makes a fully developed landscape is a complete mystery to me.

Golf Course Grove
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

Here I've made basically a value painting, color has nothing to do with it. It's just a range of pale yellow through dark green. I think I need to do some landscape painting copies to find out how people get color into their landscapes. Also, I have to figure out how to handle the foreground, this painting is dying for a foreground.

I'd also like to note that California trees are just weird. I grew up on the East Coast, and even though I've lived in SF for 8 years, I never get used to the Dr Seuss vegetation. These are pine trees, and yet the tops are flat. Where I come conifers look like proper Christmas trees!

Marin Headlands
9 x 12 (detail)
Oil on convas paper (bleh)

I only worked on this for less than an hour, and the overall painting is weak but I decided to post this portion because I had so much fun painting the rolling hills and eroded cliffs of the Headlands across the Bay. The hazy fog-filtered light on the distant hills allowed only a small range of color and value, so I had to mix very subtle color steps to describe the forms. It was a good exercise because it made me realize I often rely to much on dramatic value changes and I need to remember you can can really describe a lot of form with only very subtle shifts.

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