Working in Plein Air: Potomac River Series



Now that I am in the home stretch of the pregnancy and my desire to keep painting until the very end has really kicked into over drive, I began a new project on the 1st of June. They say nesting starts to kick in around this time, however I have found that drive to paint is more predominant...

The project consists of simple plein air sketches along the Potomac river south of Old Town Alexandria. I live about a mile from the river's edge so for several mornings a week I have been heading out around sunrise to capture the moment. The goal is to get more comfortable with painting en plein air with a limited palette of aliz. crimson, cad. yellow pale, winsor green, ultramarine blue, and titanium white. Each painting is completed as quickly as possible {1/2 hr to 2 hrs} and most often has a specific paint handling/technique that I am trying to work through and get more adept at.

Here are the paintings from the first week of June:

20110601 Potomac River Series I
Potomac River I
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

On the first day I was so motivated that I was up and in the car before sunrise, so by the time I got to the river's edge the sun had just begun to climb into the sky...

20110601 Potomac River Series II
Potomac River II
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

With this painting the sun had already moved up pretty high into the sky and I wanted to focus on the gradiation of the sky and the soft edges of the trees on the other side of the river bank.

20110602 Potomac River Series III
Potomac River III
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

This composition is a continuation on exploring soft edges and atmospheric haze while beginning to incorporate some foreground features.

20110605 Potomac River Series IV
Potomac River IV
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

On this morning the sky was threatening to open up on me at any moment, a few times I had several drops of water fall down upon me and the painting. Being a hazy, humid morning grays and atmospheric perspective became the main focus of this study.