Sunday, July 16, 2006

En Plein Air Paint Out

"On The Street" Acrylic on canvas 12" x 9" SOLD

This is the first painting in the En Plein Air phase of the Open Air III: Art & Architecture that I painted Friday July 14, 2006. I was located about a foot from the street, in the shade at 9:00 am. There were about 4 other artists in about the same street section with me. It was hot with the loud noise of the traffic. So hot, that I packed it in at about 11:30, and went back to my air conditioned studio to finish the painting. I normally would have stuck it out, but too many people stopped to talk, I did a TV interview as well and really lost the original light because of the many distractions. Wow! That last sentence makes me sound like I'm was non network, cable TV and it aired with the 5:00 pm local news featuring the event, not just me. To me though, it was my couple of minutes of fame ;-)

I sometimes use a french easel, but I wasn't sure about how far I'd be walking to set up, so I use my simple tri-pod easel. As some of you know, I am an acrylic painter, and for the first time I used a fishing tackle box, which closes fairly air tight. I got the idea from Marcia Burtt's web site and thought I'd give it a try. Marcia is a fantastic plein air painter, and she thinks it's a good way to paint, and I do to, now. You can see in the photo that I had some of my available plein air paintings with me to sell, so I brought my dolly to pack everything on...since I knew I'd be on concrete I figured "why not?".

Here is a close up of some of the preliminary blocking in of the painting. I underpainted the canvas with that pink hue as my first step, then started painting shapes.

A thumbnail sketch, a highly important part of any successful painting--about 2" x 1" carbon pencil

Here is my thumbnail, and what this does, is it establishes a design for the painting. I was most happy with the triangle of dark vs. the opposite triange of light, so this was the only thumbnail I did. I usually do 2-3 until I get a layout I'm happy with. If you can't see a good painting in your thumbnail you won't see one on your canvas, so it is an important step for me. Besides the design of the painting, I also use the pencil sketch to establish the values--don't worry about detail, squint your eyes, (man, there were some funny looks at me when I was squinting as the people passed by) this lets all the tones group into large patterns (shapes) and only draw SHAPES, just SHAPES of tone. I constantly use this thumbnail as my guide as I paint, it was right beside my water container as you can see by the splashes. I look at it and say to myself, "no, all the colours in that area are dark" or "no, all the colours are middle", you get the idea. Otherwise I could slip-up and with a quick look put values in the wrong places.

"On The Street" --detail area
This is a detail area of the painting, keep in mind the painting is just 12'' wide by 9" tall, but this will give you a better idea of the up close brushwork. This view mainly shows the shadowed right side, and the beautifully sun washed street at the end of the block.

Hopefully, one more picture to come
I had a friend walk by who snapped a picture of me working-- he took it with his cell phone and was going to email it to me so I could post it...if I get it I'll post it. So check back in a day or so.

Please comment, I really enjoy everyone's input.



Bart said...

Wow! In the middle of the street!
I am already hesitating painting in a forest because of possible passers-by.
And you see what happens if you paint in public... :-)

Was struck by the clear colours of your painting, they look fresh and indeed remind of early mornings in a city.

Rob Mackintosh said...

Thanks Bart, but although I was close to the traffic, I was just on the sidewalk, but yes, there was a lot of interruptions and the noise of the buses and cars was a bit much, but the call for this paint out was to paint the downtown core area of my city, to houour it and promote it.
As for the colours, I have to really concentrate and work hard at establishing the value first, and then the temperature of the colour, and then the hue. I am getting good comments from people who watch me paint that they like the colours I use, so I guess that there is a trade off, their watching and slight interruption for their feedback.
I'm going to stay away from complex building and street scenes in my next ones for the rest of this paint out. Its hard to get drama and focus with so much going on, and besides, my canvas is only 9" x 12" and tighter in will give more "punch".

derocherart said...

Thanks Rob your details and photos work well to give powerful information. I am very interested in under painting. I think you did well with the interruptions. It adds a unique rhythm to the painting even though the rest was finished in studio. Your forest scenes are very peaceful and your city scape is active lending to the mood. Thank you for the invite I'll check back.

Ed Terpening said...

You are so right about getting the sketch right up front. That's key to a good painting. Every good painting starts with a good abstract design of shapes/values. I personally use a set of brush pens, one black, one dark gray and one light gray. With the white of the paper, this gives me four values to work with.

It's easy to want to get right into a painting without sketching, but I find this planning step is always worthwhile.

Rob Mackintosh said...

Thanks Ed,
If you do it, then I know I'm on the right track with my thumbnail sketches... Your paintings have great compositions, and I especially like the way you will even make flat land a slope to make a better comp--something I intend to adopt as part of my compositional strategy, as the need arises. After all we are creative artist, and should really create.

Lesley said...

I really enjoyed seeing your set up as well as the painting. Fascinating! When you say you use a fishing tackle box, are you using it as a palette?

Rob Mackintosh said...

Lesley, I just started using it, and after about 3 weeks of putting the paint in the tiny compartments where the lures & hooks would go (squeeze just enough to do about 3-4 paintings) the paint is still wet and normal. Be sure that the tackle box closes with the bottom lip fitting into the upper lip making it fairly air tight. I have a 3-tray fold out model, and in the bottom tray I have folded papertowels into each compartment and poured water in to keep the humidity high in the box when closed. Also you will need a misting bottle to "spritz" a mist of water over the paint compatments periodically as you work...indoors or out.

As for my palette, I followed Marcia Burtt's method, I have a piece of ordinary foam core of standard thickness, and mix my colours on it, once it gets too used you can just repalce it with a new one. I don't plan to for while, I use similar colours and values from painting to painting, and it's really great to match mixes or see how a subtle new mix works when placed over the one you just put down. So it visually tests as you mix with it.

Better yet, regarding this tackle box palette, look for a new full blog demo on this which I will post fairly soon with pictures and notes.

Axl T. Ernst said...

I just randomly ended up here from Bart's journal and was flipping through and said "wait a minute.. I did open air too!" What a random find, to find another Londoner.

Anyway, I had to comment since this was a pleasant surprize.