Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Plein Air Setup

So, last Sunday, I was out working on a plein-air landscape and freezing my tushy off. Even though the temperature seemed warm in the sun (at least it seemed so in my back yard), when I went out to a field, near my house, I realized that the brisk wind easily drops the temperature by about 100 degrees. Needless to say, didn't paint outside very long.

When I'm painting outdoors, this is my typical setup. It's an alla-prima pochade (http://www.allaprimapochade.com/) that is worth every penny that you pay for. The pochade is a custom made box that is extremely sturdy and easy to setup. The pochade is mounted on a Manfrotto heavy duty tripod (rated for 11 lbs) and, if the wind is brisk, the set up is still pretty rock-solid. On the ground, you see my basic supplies: a backpack to carry everything, a container of water (I use water-soluble oils), paper towels, plastic container holding my paint tubes, trash bag, a brush holder for all of my brushes, and an empty plastic container to put paint that I have not used, but is no longer in the tube.

So, when I started setting up, I pulled out my viewfinder to determine what I wanted to paint. I loved the view of the mountain in the distance with the single tree to the right. Thought that that would be a good starting point.

Also, I need a lot of work on my trees and, studying trees during the winter time is a great way to understand the basic structure of a tree. Also, it's really really hard to get the thin lines working for the tree branches.

So, my first process is to just block out the areas that I would like to paint. Once I block out the areas, I start adjusting the values so that the farthest features recede. This is done my adding various levels of greys to my colors to dull them down for the distance. I always try to remember that the darkest darks and the brightest brights are close to you. Also, the closer the objects are, the more detail that you can see.

As you can see from the picture, the basic structure is there, but the dark of the mountain needs to be a lot lighter so that the mountain is pushed farther back into the horizon.

I also need to do this to the groups of trees in the mid-ground.

As I worked more on the painting, it started coming together. However, this was about the time that my hands started getting cold and I was more interested in getting out of the wind versus actually painting.

Overall, not bad... but not great. I can do a lot better. It's a matter of getting out there and practicing more.

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