Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


A few days ago I went out for a walk and followed a path that cut through a couple of nearby housing estates before eventually leading out into the countryside along the edge of a Wheat field. After about half an hour I found myself on top of a hill with a lovely view of the next village. I set up my stuff and proceeded to paint. I struggled mixing colours and felt as if I was slapping paint around in a haphazard fashion, so much so that after about 40 minutes I gave up. This wasn't what I'd expected after my last, more successful endeavour ... and the church tower looking more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa didn't help in the slightest.

Disappointed in my painting effort but determined to become more proficient painting en plein air I decided to try again. This time I started with a pen on the assumption that the black pen lines would hold the painting together. I found myself moving the pen around quickly and the result was much more sketchy than I'd intended, but I liked it better than the first and so I headed home.

Later in the day, still feeling disappointed that my first effort hadn't turned out as intended, I downloaded to my computer a reference photo I'd taken of the scene, and set up my easel. This time I felt much more in control. I was happier mixing the colours, and was taking greater care with my brush thinking more about lights and darks. I felt that this painting was working and my earlier disappointments soon started to fade.

This is the first time I've painted the same scene both indoors and out and it has proved a valuable lesson. I've learned that I must not expect 'studio' level results when painting in the field, yet I must somehow try and approach a painting outdoors in the same way as I do when I'm at my easel.

The journey continues. ;-)


26 comments:

  1. At least you were out there John, taking in the scene, that will have helped later. I do see what you mean about the leaning tower though (although you could have blagged it and said it was known as little sister to the Italian one!) [laugh]. Your ink version works well, as you say the ink holds in the painting, but I love the effect. I do like your studio painting too, but my overall favourite has to be the ink one.

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    1. LOL, that's a good idea Ann. I could have blagged it just by saying the church spire really leans like that. I'll remember that for next time. ;)

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  2. I've only done a little bit of plein air painting and when I did a couple of weeks ago I made sure I had no expectations - I didn't expect a 'proper' painting, I was just having a go. I wasn't disappointed because I didn't expect it to be a finished painting, but just a quick sketch. I think painting en plein air, even if the result is disappointing still most definitely gives you a real feel for the subject so that when you come to do it again in the comfort of a studio, you can translate that feeling in a more relaxed setting. Your finished painting really flows - I like it - and the pen and ink one works really well too!

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    1. Thank you Sharron. You're right that 'disappointment' is directly related to 'expectation' and it's a valid point that the studio version had benefited from the previous two attempts.

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  3. Well right off it was that leaning to the right one ....that did it for me.. lol ! but aside from that I think it's quite good.
    Your pen and ink is very good, you always do well with that.
    But of course my favorite would be your last effort. What a quaint little village. And you put in all those necessary darks that are so important. Yes, it looks like a Prince Charles painting.
    very English! BJ

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    1. Thank you very much BJ, I know how much you like English watercolours but I don't think I'm in Charlie's league. lol.

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  4. Making progress John! Lovely painting! :)

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  5. Hi John. Yep I definitely empathise with both your posts. In fact your pieces are miles better than what I achieved on my last outing and I'd be more than happy to have done these so don't be so hard on yourself. I don't think the trouble is expectation I think it's just logistics and time. We don't have as much thinking or painting time and we are not as comfortable painting outdoors yet. People are definitely a problem too especially teenagers. So all in all we need to find a way of adapting to all these new occurences. It is a totally different way of painting and I agree we can't expect to produce a finished piece like we do indoors. Funnily enough I've booked myself into a Jake Winkle course in November. Though it's animal based, I'm hoping to pick up some minimal sketchy tips from him as my style is definitely not sketchy and maybe that is another problem that I need to work on for plein air. Anyway keep those feet and brushes moving as you are doing better than I am. It's great having a plein air buddy to talk the problems through with. Take care. x

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    1. Laura, I so agree with you about time. Without consciously thinking about it, I am aware of a sense of needing to get the painting done and dusted quick, and be on my way. Next time out I'm going to make a conscious effort to slow down and take my time. I'm looking forward to reading all about your Jake Winkle course once you've been. I don't think I'm doing better than you so that must mean we're both doing good. Happy plein airing. Take care. x

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  6. I really like your pen and ink! Excellent!!!! LOVE YOUR TITLE!!

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  7. I commend you for attempting plein air! Not easy. Both your pieces are lovely, I especially like the ink and good for you for sticking with it.

    Sue

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  8. Painting en plein air is not easy. I like the one you did in the studio but it still needs some dark values to make the scene pop.
    Jean

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  9. Painting outside always brings an element we don't have in the studio - one of nerves, which affects the best of us. You never know what's going to happen outside, from kind commentators to the " I could do better" ones, to wandering cows - and if you're in Essex, even lions :lol:
    Hence you can't fully relax, which does affect the painting quality.
    I find the pen and wash always have a quaint charm and I stick to those outdoors .
    Your final studio piece does see you fully relaxed and in charge - that transmits into the beautiful work it is.

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    1. Pat, I'd also thought that I might get on better if I stick to pen & washes when painting outdoors. I'll see how it goes. Thank you very much.

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  10. Hi there John!... Enjoyed seeing your refining of your initial plein air sketch! On each occasion... it is easy to see that you gained valuable learning... not just about the subject... but more about the process... the pitfalls and the possibilities that arrive as a result of painting en plein air.

    The fact that you weren't discouraged and persevered resulted in the final success of your last effort. Often... what comes out of the experience... and how it is interpreted and used afterwards better demonstrates your success!

    I like what you produced finally... but "the Leaning Tower" has truth and beauty in it as well!

    Don't give up the ship John!

    Good plein airing...
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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    1. Ah, wise words Bruce, to judge the success on the experience rather than the result. Yes, I did gain valuable learning and feel that I do better each time I go out. Thanks for the nice comments Bruce.
      Warmest regards,
      John

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  11. Well hats off to you - most would have been deflated and given up! It is very hard to paint outdoors. The main difference with the final result is the tones, which give it that feeling of depth. I love it! :0)

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    1. I hadn't appreciated how much harder it would be Sandra and I'm in awe of those who paint well outside. Thanks for the support. ;-)

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  12. Bravo! John, that is what plein air is all about. You did a great job on these. Love the pen and watercolor wash of the second and you did an excellent job on the studio piece. It's okay to finish a painting at home or start another from the plein air sketch or photos. I am still learning about this plein air and it's wonderful. Happy painting to you.

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    1. Thank you very much for the support Joan. Since getting outdoors to paint I've to appreciate just how difficult it is. You're work is amazing. ;-)

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  13. I swear I posted a comment here, John. Old-age or glitch!? or both!

    Your always going to impress the heck out of me, because you are confident enough to post all your stuff, even though you feel some is below par. They all look good to me ...although the last one is the best... a beautiful scene captured!

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    1. No worries about the missing comment John, it happens ... especially when you get to our age, lol.

      The main ethos behind my art forum is showing beginners that it's ok to mess up and the best way to do that is by example. Besides, I've no shortage of below par material. lol.

      Thanks very much John.

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