Generously! Kevin Macpherson said it best when he wrote that we should paint by the pound. I love that idea. Yes my paintings may lack for composition or some other quality, but at least I try not be called stingy with my paint. Like the French who insist that good cooking demands rich ingredients we artists need to be bold with paint and brushstrokes.
The brushstroke is an essential part of This idea. Hold the brush horizantal to the canvas, for example, and lay the paint down in a sideways motion. There should be a textured color note with each stroke. Resist going back over that stroke to avoid flattening it. Use this approach with some variation where necessary, but trying not to lose the effect. A distinct mark of color.
Many a time I have finished a painting dissatisfied with the result. Then to return the following day with a fresh eye and was able to appreciate the music of color notes and texture of the oil paint. It is something that seldom disappoints.
Nature after all is never flat. Why should our paintings be flat?
The Easter weekend was an opportunity to get in some more plein air painting in between the Easter family get together. I was fortunate to get some time on the beach at Port Alfred. I enjoy this coastal village because it has beautiful beaches without the crowds. The sense of escape is complete.
On this particular morning the weather turned overcast, but the wind was mild so no reason to stay away. The only weather condition that is impossible is high winds. Even rain is better!
I had my travel bag with all the plein air kit I required except ... I forget to pack my roll of paper towel! Shocker! Paper towel is essential for cleaning off my brush and as any plein painter will confirm it is a real nuisance not to have this. Oh well I had to improvise with bits of note paper and even a paper cup was used to wipe off my brush. I was also filming this painting session for my upcoming plein air course. No excuses - I had get on with the painting.
As always painting plein air poses many challenges. Sometimes it can feel that you are flying by the seat of your pants trying to paint something decent, but forgetting to look at the scene in front of you. The time flies by and you wonder what went wrong. I like to remind myself that the scene before me does not demand anything from me. I am the artist and I decide what and how to paint the scene. I see little point in trying to paint an exact image of what is there. If that is what I wanted then I could take a photo and paint it back in the studio.
I try to get and idea from the scene. A mood or experience. The colors can be exaggerated and composition changed for good effect. Leave some things out if they do not enhance the painting. That is the artist's right. Then I paint and keep on until I feel that I cannot add anything more. Painting plain air takes concentration and after a while it tires you out mentally. Best to stop and regroup later. In the end I was very happy with the result and enjoyed the experience.
You can see the completed painting and video on my forthcoming course. More details here. If you want news of the course's launch please sign up for updates.
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