Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hunting and Gathering

Heron Bend 3x4" watercolour sketch
Once had someone tell me that one of my paintings looks REALLY bad in the picture I posted online but it didn't look that bad in person. That person can go kick rocks. Not because my feelings were hurt, because they weren't, but because if you're going to dish out criticism like that you better have a solution to the problem. Fine, thank you for telling me that my paintings look less crappy in person than they do on your computer screen.  Hopefully some day they'll have a camera setting that's specifically to make your paintings look less crappy on a computer. Until then, you'll just have to imagine that, in real life, they don't look as bad as they do in cyberspace. 
Bridge at Ely Ford 3x2.5" watercolour sketch

Unfortunately it's not just cyberspace we have to worry about our paintings looking differently. I don't know how many times I've heard this from a plein air painter, looks good now wonder how it will look when I get it inside. The lighting will sometimes change how paintings appear.  I found this article from artists, Mitchell Albala. It's got good information so if you have time give it a read, if not  scroll down half way and see how he has his easel oriented to demonstrate how light can change the way your painting looks. He's actually demonstrating how to keep your palette and canvas in the same light so that you won't be surprised when you mix paint and apply to your canvas, but it also shows how the painting looks different in sunlight and shade. When I first started plein air painting I didn't realise how much the light on my work effected the way I saw it. I could plainly see how it effected the landscape, but didn't really consider it might be changing the way my paint looks. Now I'm more mindful of this and make attempts to adjust my easel and choose optimal locations. In this sweltering heat we're having that's easy to do, pick a shady spot and stay there! On other days it's not so obvious. I have written in my notes that someone said, plein air painting is really just information gathering. If you think of it that way and you go out and keep in mind that you're out to learn something you won't go home disappointed.  The more you go out the more information you gather and the easier it will get.

2 comments:

  1. Ran into that today. The sun was arcing over my left shoulder but the views perpendicular to that arc weren't interesting or were fraught with compositional problems. I was able to finish before the sun got to "nazi salute" level, which is when the colors really start changing. I agree with everything Albala says but you can address those bad angles if you realize your time window is limited. Don't expect to take on something with a lot of fussy details.

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    1. I think that was the other half of that note about plein air painting being information gathering. Learning about how the environment around you is going to change and spend more time capturing the mood/atmosphere rather than the minute details.

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