Working in Plein Air: Potomac River Series



Here are the plein air studies completed from last week. My goal is to get out and paint 3-4 times a week, last week I was able to go out three times, on Sunday I was out for an extended time so two studies were completed.

I also switched over to using gessoed watercolor paper as my painting surface, it is an easy surface to paint on because the cold pressed watercolor paper has a bit of a texture and the gesso provides a level of tooth for the paint to grab onto. Another benefit is that because I gessoed several sheets of paper, I feel free to explore and experiment with out concern about wasting a canvas panel or the need to wipe down the painting when it does not work out. With the gessoed paper I will have a timeline that records progress.

20110606 Potomac River Series 05
Potomac River Series V
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

With this study I was working on the gradation of the sky along with the atmospheric graying of the distant trees and shore.

20110608 Potomac River Series 06
Potomac River Series VI
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

When working in plein air I often block in my drawing using aliz. crimson, so sometimes the thinned red will peep through.

A few days before I headed out to paint the last two studies of the week I spent an afternoon reading through Marc Hanson's blog Painting My Way Through Life. Back in April 2009 Marc Hanson set a personal goal of completing four paintings a day en plein air for the entire month, that is for 30 straight days, he called it a "painting marathon".

I visited every blog post of that month and read about his experiences, it was so inspiring... I guess in a way I am trying to do something similar but a lot more open ended.

20110612 Potomac River Series 07
Potomac River Series VII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Before beginning this study I had set a goal of trying to complete each within an hour, and I wanted to make sure my composition was more of a vignette, giving a specific impression of a scene that captured my attention.

I did not complete this in my time limit, however the play with fore, middle, and back ground was a good exercise.

20110612 Potomac River Series 08
Potomac River Series VII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Learning to capture the big shapes and values is important to me, however I also need to spend time on developing the abilty to paint the smaller details like, rocks and such. So this study focused on the rocky edge of the Potomac.

I am was out painting this morning, the weather has returned to the normal temperatures DC is supposed to have during this time of year. It was a beautiful morning.

Thanks for stopping by, Liz