Monday, April 29, 2013

Tippette #29 - Plein Air - How to get started

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).  One per day...during April...right here!  Tell a friend!

Plein Air - How to get started.

Friday, I conducted a 1-day workshop at Four Holes Swamp (Halsey Tract) near Ridgeville, SC (we stopped for lunch at DUKE's BBQ in Ridgeville...well known & loved by locals and visitors). 

Many artists are afraid to paint "en plein air" (outdoors).  I like to expose (pun intended!) more and more artists to that very important aspect of painting.  Many students get spellbound by the beauty in front of them and don't know how to get started...what section should I focus on?  How can I decide what to paint?
One of my students used a homemade viewfinder.
It's made out of foam core and the opening is cut to a proportionate ratio to our 9x12 paper (3:4)
The first thing we do is use our viewfinder (either store bought, or homemade) to scan the scene. We use it both horizontally and vertically to give us many options.  
Using store bought may draw on it with a dry erase marker.
See details on how to buy one below.
Here I'm using a viewfinder that I bought online (click HERE)...mostly as a demonstration to show how you can easily draw things in perspective.  With this product (which is made of plexiglas AND has a grid on it), you may draw on top of it with a dry erase marker to get the main shapes into position.  Tip: Squint when you look through it so that you don't see a double image!
Fast and easy "dry erase" drawing on my plexi viewfinder, along with a couple of thumbnail sketches.
At this stage, I typically capture the scene with my camera from the angle I'm painting from (if you use your camera or phone to capture the scene, you may also use that as an instant viewfinder, providing you keep the proportions in mind...if your phone screen is not the same size proportionally as your paper, make adjustments accordingly).  If the weather changes and I have to leave the scene, I've got what I need to complete my painting in the studio.  Then I quickly do a few thumbnail sketches to determine what my plan of action will be that day.

My Eric Michael's EN PLEIN AIR PRO EASEL setup.
I start laying down my washes of color (on Friday, I also sketched into the painting with a pen, after the first layer had dried completely...I don't always use pen and ink, but I do always start with a pencil sketch).  Here, below, is my work-in-progress (about 60% done), along with the research photo.  I'll now do some negative painting to pop out some shapes, and I hope to successfully finish the painting (which I'll show you in a future post).  I'm off to a good start.
Work in Progress (Helen K Beacham)
Reference photo taken at the scene while painting.
Come with Helen K. Beacham and Kelly Medford to paint Venice this October...
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click HERE for details!