Plein Air Painting

Some people have no idea what plein air painting is since the words are French and mean "fresh air painting." There are many plein air painters today and even a great magazine dedicated to the subject that inspires one to want to go out with the group. I have been trying to get out more to paint on location having read how much it improves one's art and sense of color. I would have to say that those who tout painting outdoors on site are right on the money.   

Two weeks ago I packed up my French Easel, grabbed my Dakota pastel carrier, and Better Brella and a bottle of water and went off to paint a barn I had been wanting to paint. The barn is located on Wise Road at Linnet Lane on the back road way to Lincoln from Auburn. It was a sunny cloudless day, and a comfortable temperature when I arrived on scene at 9:15 am.  I decided that I would set up in the back of my Nissan P/U because it afforded a nice spacious level platform that was safe to stand on, and raised me a foot or so higher than if I had been down on the road.  

My plein air painting setup

My plein air painting setup

I took out my viewer and made a decision as to the dimensions of my painting on the 9"X12" piece of Wallis sanded paper I had taped to the wood pallet board. I first did a value sketch in my sketchbook of what would be my painting using a #3 pencil. Once that was done, I sketched the barn lightly on the Wallis paper along with the trees in the background.  I then roughed in an undercoat using some NuPastels in the major blocks I had determined. I used an orange behind the trees, some light yellow, in the sky and a darker brown where the barn would go, and a dark ochre undercoat where the foreground grasses would be. I then used Turpenoid and a 1/2 brush I had brought along to liquify the pastel and give me a nice base to begin my painting. Since it was warming up quickly, it only took about ten minutes for the undercoat to dry.

I then began using various hard and then soft pastels to bring the painting colors together, and capture the essence of what I was looking at. The barn began to take shape with its rusted roof, and multicolored wood siding. I managed to lock down the values on the shady side and in the surrounding trees and grasses. There were a lot of corral fences around the barn, and I roughed them in to get the correct placement, figuring I would complete those details at home in my studio. The sun was getting warmer as it rose and I was grateful I had brought along my umbrella to shade my painting and part of me as I worked. I locked in the sky, tree and grass colors to bring the painting together and felt comfortable with the paintings foundations. I packed up around 12:30 to head home since it was getting quite warm and the light was changing significantly. I was glad I had shot a few pictures when I first arrived on scene as a reference.

Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence

Once I was home and had a chance to have some lunch I began to tackle the fences and to add some detail and shading. I have entitled the finished piece "The Sound of Silence". Unfortunately, like many old barns, this one is no longer used and sits quietly, gradually deteriorating with no maintenance against the elements.