I’ve found my new plein air paradise, namely Kensington a very varied and interesting neighbourhood in Calgary. Lots of street life. I spent yesterday and today doing some plein air painting there. I’m very pleased with the process I used. Get a good composition and then work out a value pattern. I’m also happy with the actual paintings I did. I find it best for me at this point to thing of plein air painting as a time to gather information. If the painting works out that’s always a bonus.
So I definitely got lots of ideas and had a fun and satisfying experience.
I am a firm believer in the power of play in our art journey. Those times when we are completely unconcerned with the product and just playing with the process can yield some real gems and even when they don’t they almost always teach us something.
This image is a good example. I have been wondering for a while about the best way to create rays of light emerging from a sky or through a mist. With only that thought I did a couple of little studies. In one I worked the sky and then lifted out with a paper towel. In this one I again wet the sky but this time I used a spray bottle to wash out some rays. I may not have the timing right because the force of the spray swept away most of the paint so I added some darker pigment between the rays. Eventually it looked like this and I just put a tree right in front of it. It think it’s a really neat, spontaneous painting. Doesn’t look like a sky at all but it became a great waterfall. Another factor in this case is that the paper is from a Strathmore watercolour block and it accepts the paint totally differently then arches which I usually use.
In any case this hour of playing can branch out into a number of new directions so it was well worth the time.
This is the painting I did today as a demo at the Art In The Garden show. It’s from a photo I took on a very sunny and hot day behind Eau Claire Market here in Calgary. I tried to capture the strong sense of light.
The photo had this really interesting grouping of 5 people with 2 groups of 2 and one girl off by herself. The only change I made to the photo was to make that last girl a little larger and bring her forward and to emphasize here quizzical stance. I feel that gives it a much stronger sense of narrative.
9 x 12
This image has been posted before but I feel I’ve just made it a significantly stronger image by the addition of a couple of people and a few extra darks on the left hand snow bank.
You can see the original version at this link.
This process has shown me once again the value of living with a painting. I thought the original version was quite good except in one area – it didn’t really tell a story, it didn’t do anything for me. A year later I thought about adding people. With the pretty small addition of 2 people it now has a narrative and is a much stronger image. Now it’s ready for the Art In The Garden show and sale tomorrow.
Weaselhead Rhythms With People
18 x 24
St. Paul’s Panorama
16 X 12
St. Paul’s Calling
16 X 12