Friday, April 1, 2011

Plein Ole Outdoor Painting

Watercolor, 6" X 9"
I painted this on location at Spring Valley Ranch near Red Rock outside of Las Vegas.

 I'm planning to do a little plein-air work in the upcoming weeks.

"Oh," you gasp, "I love plein-air painting". I'll bet you love Impressionism too; because that's another “style” most people are familiar with. Aside from modern art (What's up with that Picasso eye-on-the-side-of-the-face thing? My kid coulda done that), Impressionism and plein-air are what most people remember or recognize among the many art styles and sub-styles throughout history.

The plein-air style—especially here in the golden state—California Plein-Air rings a bell with most folks, (although it is actually considered a variation of impressionism). Plein-air is the skinny jeans of the art world these days and is often imitated. Ubiquitous as Wal-mart, as stylized as the stick-family decal slapped on the back of every SUV, plein-air has prom queen status and is now the most sought after and miss-identified art de jour.

I'm not saying the California Plein-Air painting style is bad. Much of it is beautifully painted. The originators of the style in the 20s and 30s were masters in my mind. There is a freshness and spontaneity that is extremely exciting in a well-done on-the-spot painting.

Before it became the epic buzzword of art lovers ("I don't know art, but I LOVE plein-air"), I was hauling my pads, water bottle, palette, paints, treasured extra-soft watercolor brushes, and a bag of gummy bears in a MacWorld tote bag, hiking hill-over-dale in search of the perfect spot. Which, in addition to inspiring scenery should include: easy access to a bathroom or private bush, no ant hills, semi-dry ground, and be located far enough away to give you solitude, but not too far away to be heard if you must yell for help.

Someone! Help! Please! I can't get the cap off my Alizarin Crimson!

Give me those things, or at least most of them—location, bathroom/bush, and a bite-free place to sit—and I am the happiest girl in the world. I could sit for hours and watch the light change, listen to the birds, and paint my heart out. And I've done that a time or two hundred.

Once I sat in Devil's Punchbowl and painted the milky morning light, then the heat of noon on bleached-bone rocks, and finally, the afternoon glow of the setting sun. Aside from missing the trail and having to climb straight up over treacherous rocks (snakes!) to get back to my car, it was a perfect day.
I don't get the opportunity to sit outdoors and paint as often as I'd like, but when I do, it is a soul-soothing treat like no other. I'm really looking forward to this time and I’ll share what I do with you when I return.

1 comment:

shey art said...

Hi Susan. I have been watching your blog since you sent the initial email. What fun. I love your artwork and look forward to checking in once a week or so to see what's new on ArtologyNow! Thanks for sharing.