Friday, February 07, 2014

Maine - Plein Air - Painting in the Snow

Daily Painting Practice - When do you decide to stop painting?

On Tuesday it was cold but clear and the ice was melting. Then a new load of snow was delivered to us on Wednesday. Today was going to be a beautiful clear winter morning in Maine, and I wanted to go out and paint it. But instead of packing up and traveling, I decided to walk out my back door and into the woods.
February Morning in Maine

We ended up with maybe 10-12 inches of fresh snow. It was about  13 degrees at 7:30AM as the sun  began hitting the trees. The early morning light is what attracted me so that was the goal.
I spotted this clump of pines. Sort of looks like a family going for a walk in the woods.

It was early. The sun wasn't up high enough to cast any shadows as I set up my easel. I'm experimenting with an oil primed linen canvas board for the first time.  I have never  used oil primed canvas before, I always have used canvas primed with the less expensive acrylic gesso. This was one of the suggestions from Stapelton Kearns I wanted to try.
Block in and key down the values
Things were going smoothly with the new canvas.  (no pun intended). I noticed the difference in the canvas immediately. It has a different but wonderful feeling to it. If  you scrub the paint on as I do in the beginning, it absorbs the paint in a way that helps control the paint layers that will follow. In other words, you won't pick up the paint as easily from your blocking in phase. Actually makes the act of painting more enjoyable.
I didn't get  too far along in my painting before someone started complaining about the cold.. One of the benefits of painting in your own backyard, a short walk  to the door takes care of these little emergencies...and a hot cup of tea is always nearby.
The trek back was easy enough but the sun was on the move and getting brighter, changing all the colors and shadows..  I was only able to paint for a few more minutes before the decision that all artists face had to be made... Do I quit now or chase the light?
Just starting
Even though I was just beginning, I had my idea set in my head of what I wanted to capture.  And as the light  came up, my inspiration was no longer in front of me. 
So, do I continue with the changing light, or do I stop and come back out at the same time tomorrow, or do I use this partial impression as a study and develop the painting in the studio?
Stop right there
I decided on the later. I have my base colors close enough and the values are a good study for the mid-tones. The feeling of the early morning is what I want to paint so  chasing the light into the mid morning /afternoon is not what I will do.

It's time for a hot cup of tea and to continue the painting in the studio.

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