Hope you're all back to your productive lives, all sober and looking forward to a great 2015 ahead! I've learnt a thing or two in 2014, it was great and 2015 will be even bigger :)
I'm back to plein air painting. Plein air painting is when one paints outside, right in front of a live view. It's a lovely experience, a great social activity and a huge outdoor experience. It's also less physical, but being an outside activity, I kid myself that it's good physical exercise (it's not, especially with grub and juices that follow :)).
Last Saturday we attempted Chadwick Lakes. It's an overwhelming place, painting-wise. Loads of leaves, trees, tadpoles, water and general skies. My strategy is normally to find a comfortable angle, i.e. a place which has enough shelf space to place my stuff. on. I then seek a visual frame to paint; I look for an 'off centre' angle, a less obvious sight to paint. It's not easy. Then the plan of what to put in and what to leave out and what should be the theme/focus of the painting.
This time, I wanted to capture the play of the tree trunk reflection on the water and the subsequent spatial movement up to the point where the reflection and the real thing touch on the surface of the pond. The circular composition should keep the eye wandering on the painting.
Absorb the colours and prep the palette; a quick pencil sketch, then on to the actual rendering with watercolour (the medium I normally use). Watercolour is like the Inquisition, no ifs, no buts, no second chances, no mistakes. When it works, it's great, when not, it's a ruined weekend, mood-wise, insomma, a bit of a tight-rope walk.
This time, I did a plein-air painting of the 'Lakes', followed by a studio painting of the same scene back home, just to see the progression. Of note are the differences in the result. The studio one (the top larger picture) is more measured, calculated, possibly more serene. It's also probably better executed, technically. The plein air one is looser, more urgent, freer, less exact, more energetic; it inevitably captures the atmosphere it is painted in.
That's the beauty of plein air painting.