A double demo. I painted the same scene with a slightly different focus to show my students the difference between painting on a toned panel and a white panel with the exact same color key. Photo: Mary Byrom.
Though it is perfect for plein air painting I have been really busy the past two weeks finishing and delivering paintings, traveling and lecturing. It’s been a blast and I am catching my breath right now. This is the first day this week that I am at home. Everything speeds up when warm weather comes to New England. It’s natural for everyone to get out and about, wanting to do all sorts of things. A few days ago I headed up into northern New Hampshire to give a talk about plein air painting to a group of artists who have studio experience but not much outdoor experience. The small group of plein air painters in this area are hoping that more of their friends will join them outdoors. I was invited to introduce a large group of them to plein air painting and tell my story of how I went from being a studio painter to becoming a plein air painter and how it affected my life and my work. I can really sympathize with studio painters who like the solitude and the calm, controlled painting experience the studio offers. But nothing has changed my painting so much as painting outdoors for the past 12 years. I loved it so much I couldn’t paint indoors until last year when I made a concerted effort to return to the studio. And wow, what a surprise it was to paint indoors. I painted totally differently in the studio than I did before and I brought indoors a whole bunch of skills I gained by painting en plein air.
Plein Air Gear Show & Tell: I set up a display of some of my watercolor sets, brushes, water color pencils, pochade boxes, value markers, palette knives, sketchbooks and plein air sketches (oil, watercolor, acrylic) so people could look closely at everything and touch it. It is a very different experience to see it in 3D than just a picture of it flashing by on a power point. It was like a mini museum experience. Experience is where it is at, it sticks in the brain. Photo: B. J.
When I was invited to give this talk I thought about the huge difference there is between painting indoors from a photo and painting from nature and how these landscape studio painters would love being outdoors if they tried it. The studio paintings they made from their plein air field sketches would be a world away from anything they painted from a photograph. I decided not to do a power point presentation about my tools and gear as that would be removed from the original content; just like painting from a photograph removes you from contact with the landscape. Instead I unloaded some of the gear from my mobile car-studio and brought it into the lecture hall so everyone could see it and touch it . I did the same thing that happens when you go out to paint in plein air. Everyone was able to have up close and personal contact with the supplies and sketchbooks. They were able to hold them, turn them over, open things up and look at them as long as they liked. Talk about excitement!
After the talk I invited everyone to come over to the display. It was great to see the response. My sketchbooks really helped people see how the different tools made it easier to work in different time frames, outdoor conditions and weather situations. There were involved discussions right up until we had to scoot out the door. Photo: B.J.
Did it make a difference! After I gave a talk on how I encountered plein air painting (and how my friend Sue got us outside to paint and how we started in winter!), I invited everyone to come over to the table and to see the wide variety of tools I use when I am sketching and painting outdoors. I have 12 years of trying out different types of easels, mediums and substrates ( To be sure I am a very solid supporter of the art supply business.) People could compare the tiniest starter kits to the more elaborate set ups. Some painters already had easels that they were unhappy with and wanted suggestions for other easels on the market.
I knew what they were referring to and why they didn’t like certain products. I ran into the same problems. Artists wanted to know my opinion and my experiences with different easels, substrates, papers, paints and everything I used. I thought about how I would have appreciated this conversation earlier in my career. This week wrapped up with teaching my plein air class in a totally gorgeous location. One the students invited us to paint on her property along the Bellamy River in Dover, NH, just upriver from where it enters Great Bay. What a perfect spot for afternoon light. The tide was going out and the clouds were sailing through from the west, it couldn’t be better.
My rock star plein air students setting up to work/play on location on the mud flats along the Bellamy River where it flows into Great Bay in Dover, New Hampshire. Photo: Mary Byrom
DEMOS & A PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCATION: I am visiting art groups and associations giving demos and plein air workshops. If you or your group would like a workshop please don’t hesitate to ask for details and available dates for summer and fall.
THE PLEIN AIR EXPERIENCE ~ If you like to spend time in nature and are interested in painting outdoors but are not sure you will like it a good way to check it out is to attend a plein air demo. Some people like to paint or draw but feel shy about doing it in a public place. Others don’t have the equipment and want to see what it is like before investing in a lot of stuff they might not end up using. The best way to find out is to watch someone and see how it is done. Come to one of my plein air demos and see for yourself.
PLEIN AIR DEMO –
MAY 28TH 4-6 pm
2016 SEASON OPENING FOR BETH ELLIS GALLERY
Location: BETH ELLIS GALLERY
294 SHORE ROAD
PLEIN AIR DEMO & INSTRUCTION
JUNE 16TH 4-7 pm
Location : GOVERNMENT STREET, DOWNTOWN KITTERY, MAINE
Hosted by : THE KITTERY ART ASSOCIATION
This is a great chance to see how I paint and how I design a plein air painting. If you think you’d like to paint outdoors come to this event. It’s a great sampler of plein air painting. After the demo I will answer questions and share experiences.
SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSES
THE FIRST PLEIN AIR CLASS STARTS MAY 3RD.
CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED.
2016 summer classes “en plein air” begin on May 3rd. I will be teaching a new easy plein air method in a 6 week block of classes. This easy method really helps beginners get comfortable with plein air painting and it helps experienced painters improve skills dramatically. It’s a tried and true method and its great to see how fast it works.SIGN UP HERE FOR 6 WEEK SESSION.SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE SINGLE CLASS
MAINE SUMMER WORKSHOPS
JUNE 18 10-5
JULY 9 10-5
AUGUST 6 10-5
SEPTEMBER 10 10-5
OCTOBER 8 10-5
All workshops are in southern Maine in the coastal towns of Kittery, York, Cape Neddick, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise. Painting locations include quintessential Maine places including beaches, rocky coastlines, harbors, marshes, farms, historical homes and classic small villages.
These are one day plein air workshops. All workshops begin at 10am with a one hour break for lunch. The day will start with a demo and a short talk on the specific aspects/advantages/challenges of the location. Guidance will be given on choices of subject matter tailored to each student’s individual painting experience. Students can expect to complete one or more paintings.
Register for a workshop here. Price: $100.
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