Monthly Archives: June 2015

Catching The Mood Of Griffith Woods

Over the past 3 weeks I have done  plein air painting at Griffith Woods on  4 separate occasions.  I did 4 plein air paintings.  The first 3 were earnest and good efforts but were in general over done, a little heavy handed.  For my 4th attempt I decided that I needed to do something differently.  So this time I took half an hour to do some thumbnails and get a plan for the painting.  For me this painting is by far the best of the bunch.   Once again I’ve learned that using thumbnails improves the painting experience and the consistency of the paintings.

Here are the 4 thumbnails that I did.  I tried out a few different ideas, namely how high to put the waterline and a couple of slightly different arrangement of shapes.

Rex Beanland, 3 thumbnails, Griffith WoodsRex Beanland, large thumbnail, Griffith Woods


















The unexpected gift I was given when I did these thumbnails was to have some people sunbathing in this fairly secluded spot.  But it gave me a great opportunity to practice sketching the figure in these particular poses.  Here are the very small, quick sketches I did.  They are extremely Rex Beanland, figure laying down, Griffith Woods basic but it’s very interesting how much information I actually got from them.  In total these 2 little things took about 2 minutes.Rex Beanland, sunbathing 1st thumbnail, Griffith Woods








Just for fun I took these 2 thumbnails and did them a little larger in watercolour.  All of a sudden this is getting very interesting.  I can see some exciting new ways to develop the ideas contained in them.  Larger paintings come to mind.

Rex Beanland, girl laying down, Griffith Woods Rex Beanland, figure sitting (WC), Griffith Woods
















Finally here is the 4th plein air painting.  It’s by far the best and I must admit that I love it.  The main struggle was how to represent the background of trees.  I tried a bunch of ideas with none of them actually working but somehow altogether it worked out.Rex Beanland, Sunbathing At Griffith Woods, watercolour, 12 x 16











What I love about this painting is that it does completely capture the mood of this little gravel pile that was sunlit in a world of shadows on a very hot day.  What I need to keep working on  is how to capture the background. The background is a  mass of trees with some of the bright greens popping through here and there.  I was continually unclear what technique would best represent it.  I felt that  something fast and experimental was the way to go but my mind kept telling me to do detail.  Draw and paint every branch, every trunk etc .  In this painting I’ve somehow found a technique that’s in the middle . . . and somehow it works.

1 Week Later

I wasn’t planning to go on with this theme but I went to Griffith Woods again today (July 2) with the Thursday plein air group.  This time we were right on the Elbow River at the far eastern end of the parking lot.  Lots of kids swimming.  Rex Beanland, sketches of sunbathers 2Here are a few very quick thumbnails that I did.  I’m coming to  realize that  my first reaction to a subject is so literal.  I nearly always include everything I can see.  But by committing to do these sketches I was able to realize the painting is about the figures so instead of a landscape with little figures I zoomed in on the real story – the figures.  If I hadn’t done these I would have painted the first version and regretted it.  By doing them I came up with a scene that really expresses my impression of the scene.  I’m very happy with it.  Thumbnails love ’em and need ’em.



Rex Beanland, A Hot Day On The Elbow River, watercolour, 12 x 16

A Hot Day On The Elbow River, watercolour, 12 x 16

Plein Air Convention & Expo

I was fortunate to attend the Plein Air Convention & Expo in Monterey, California as 1 of 3 representatives of The Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour.  This clip shows the highlights of the week.  It was a fabulous experience, motivating and inspiring.



These are my plein air paintings from Monterey.  I found out that in these plein air events the definition of a plein air painting is one started on site and either finished on site or finished later without the use of photographs.  By that definition some of these are not true plein air work but by my definition that’s OK.

Rex Beanland, Monterey Beach, watercolour, 12 x 16

Monterey Beach

Rex Beanland, Fisherman's Wharf, watercolour, 12 x 16

Fisherman’s Wharf

Rex Beanland, Monterey Church, watercolour, 12 x 16

Monterey Church

Rex Beanland, Asilomar State Beach, watercolour 12 x 16

Asilomar State Beach

Rex Beanland, Lover's Point, watercolour, 12 x 16

Lover’s Point









Rex Beanland, Woman In Front Of Tree, watercolour, 12 x 16

Woman In Front Of Tree – Carmel