Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Studio vs. Plein Air Painting

When the Impressionists first stepped out of their studios, the subject matter shifted from the things that they were painting to the quality of the light that fell on the things they were painting.  Color and light became uppermost in their minds. Even these days, most studio painters are influenced by that change in focus.

As for me, I am energized when I'm painting on location.  I am more spontaneous, my brushstrokes are faster, and I love the way the upright easel helps to mix the paint on the paper.  The occasional drips and splatters also delight me.  I can also choose nearby elements to include in my painting rather than relying strictly on a photograph.  And quite frankly, I think the sounds, the warmth of the sunlight or the coolness of the fog on my shoulders, and the smell of low tide all make their way into the experience of painting.  Being outdoors makes me feel part of the landscape and much more in the moment.  Rather being removed from the scene I'm painting, I feel the joy of being in the landscape.

So when I was finally able to paint plein air yesterday for the first time in over three months, it was exhilarating. 

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