I was thinking the other day about how to create successful plein air paintings. When I first went outdoors to paint in 2004 painting the landscape was overwhelming to me. I would think about what I saw and what I would choose to paint. I remember I would be in these gorgeous, awesome places and when I got home the painting wouldn’t even look close to the beauty that I had experienced. It looked like a struggle of paint on a panel. I was painting a picture of my struggle to paint in plein air, not the beauty that was in front of me. I decided I wanted to have more control over the painting and not get over whelmed by the elements. This idea and a process I went through helped me improve my plein air paintings and reach a certain level accomplishment.
At a gallery opening on Friday night a studio painter shared with me how she is always struggling when she goes out to paint en plein air. As I listened to her I remembered the time when I had my “plein air break through” and no longer struggled while painting en plein air. It had to do with a series of plein air painting experiences and a change that occurred in my thinking.
When I first painted outdoors it was in the winter. I had so many failures. I pretty much had to learn plein air painting on my own. There seemed to be a shortage of plein air painting instructors in New England in the winter. I didn’t have any real guidance. As time went by I had fewer failures but couldn’t really see a method or pattern to my success. I decided I was going to learn how to create successful plein air paintings. I was going to strategically try specific things to get me on the right track.
The first thing I did was research lots of painters to find one who was accomplished at painting outdoors. The second step was to find one who offered instruction in plein air painting. It was difficult. Only a few artists offered instruction in plein air painting and most of those were far away in the western states and only offered one workshop a year. I was wait-listed trying to get into workshops that were filled. To be continued….
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