Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Whats so good about Plein Air?

Having been a devoted "painting a day" practitioner for over a year when I started blogging in 2006 and learning, through that, the benefits of regular "training" I have continued to paint on a very regular basis.  At the beginning of the year I made the decision that I wanted to shake my inner artist up a bit.
I like to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, for me it helps me to learn more and more about how and why I paint.  I want to be fluent and fearless, I want to improve my language of looking.  I really wanted to paint for the sake of painting.  So I settled on a challenge of painting one view as often as I could for this coming year.  I wasn't sure how much I would get out of painting the same view every day.  I wasn't sure how I felt about painting in all weathers, rain and cold included.  I wasn't even sure if I would be able to fit it into my working day.  But just over two weeks into the project I am already finding huge benefits.
This is the place that I am painting the series from.  A friend was walking and took this when she saw me working away, and this is the painting that I was doing.

I have managed to get here every day, usually on the walk with my dog, often after a long session of illustration work.  It is a glorious bit of time out, a quiet stopping off point, a little bit of stillness in the day.
I have found that even when it is pouring with rain I can paint, I put the actual painting inside my bag and make a tiny tent out of it, I get wet but the painting stays mostly dry.
This was the most rainiest one so far, you can just see the rain drops on the paint.  It is fascinating to see how much variety there is in light and weather.  It is good practice to try to distill shifting elements, to focus and work fast.  I have started looking at maps and weather forecasts, star charts and moon phases, watching how the wind plays on the water and trying, very hard, to translate that into paint.  I think I have a long way to go, I need more confidence, I need to feel happier with sunshine and blue sky ( I am not right now, more comfortable with rain and mist!) 
I have a small home made prochade box that I have used for years but am considering buying a proper wooden one. You see, it has been so good that I have fallen back in love with plein air painting, I want to do more.

I am planning a 24 hour marathon, painting the another view every two hours, I have my tent or my van and I am scouting the area for a good spot.

This is the location for the years worth of paintings.  Last night I got up at 3am, by design!  It was a full moon, the ice moon .  I wanted to try and paint the night.  It was wonderful to be out and about when no one else was.  The painting turned out well, it looks a bit dark here but in reality it is..well, a night painting!
So far there is nothing I wouldn't recommend about the practice of a small painting every day and even better one done out side, in the open air, it is proving to be a real tonic, my key to happiness!
When I have completed a month I shall post up a slide show, for now, if you are interested you can see them all on my blog. The Red Shoes


René PleinAir said...

plien air?

vivien said...

This is going to be a fascinating project to follow and it's off to a great start - I love that 3am one.

The 24hour one - all in one go? that will be a killer!

You have such a wonderful place to paint I'm envious - but we could all find somewhere that appeals if we have the work ethic - no excuses!

Sarah said...

Ha ha Rene, I paint I dont spell!
You are right Viv, no excuses!

René PleinAir said...

I know I know, but it looked soo weird as title.

You have a lot to go for this year I would like to see a few shot's of you home made pochade tho, tucked deeply into that bag that must be some gem.

Good luck, but I am sure you make it happen.

Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

Oh, I share your love for plein air and I echo everything you say Sarah! Everyhting about the learning, shaking our comfort zones, growing...
I'm looking forward to follow this devlopment of yours...I will definitely learn from it. good luck
PS: with one thing I ghave to disagree with you...PLEASE give me the sunshine!!

Making A Mark said...

Brilliant Sarah. Love the post, love the location and really looking forward to a year's worth of paintings from this place.

Jeanette Jobson said...

I love the reality of these, weather, light etc. Its amazing how much you learn from painting the same place over and over. Nothing is ever the same.

A 24 hour that could be very interesting, great idea!

Yes, 'no excuses' should be our motto this year and you're leading the pack on this!

Steve Kohr Fine Art said...

Love your night painting! Also am intrigued by the fact that you study "maps and weather forecasts, star charts and moon phases." I've never considered that before - great idea!