Monday, July 19, 2010

Plein Air Painting All Day Long At The Farm

I spent the day on Saturday at Scotsdale farm just north of Georgetown Ontario. I love this place. Everywhere you turn is another painting. I packed well with a ton of water in a cooler and snacks to last me through the day. I was determined to paint several pieces as quick as possible. Usually, I get out there and work on one painting for several hours, but after studying the works of some plein air masters, I made a decision that doing more, in this case, is better because you can’t overwork any. Besides the light changes so fast and if you are spending the day working on one, you end up working from memory or blocking in the shapes and waiting for the right moment to paint the light.

I started with this 11”x14” early in the morning. I need to photograph this one again because the glare on the near trees is very distracting. In reality, the trees in the foreground are in almost total shadow and are dark framing the passage of morning light through the meadow.

At about 11:30, I started this little one 4”x6”. I didn’t want to begin working on a larger one in the mid day heat and besides I needed to break for lunch as I was getting hungry and tired of standing.

After lunch, I took a long walk through the farm making notes of where to paint next. I found several locations with magnificent views for my next trip (this weekend I hope). I might bring a piece of plywood with me to stand on so that I can avoid being stationary in the tall grass in some areas. I just don’t feel at ease not knowing what is at my feet LOL. Maybe I should think of a painting carpet instead. Hmm… I will think this through.

The afternoon started getting interesting as the clouds rolled in and rumbles of thunder echoed from the distance. I did this one standing at a small bridge looking south-west towards a hill. For me this one held the most information that I could use for in-studio work. The colours and values are right. I finished this one at about 4:30 took a break, walked around a bit to stretch my back.

Then just after 5, I started on this one. Again I was close to the little bridge looking south-west. This time though the thunderstorm was getting closer and a different sense of colour and atmosphere took over the farm. I was racing with the approaching storm. You don’t want to be on the farm through a thunderstorm. Lightning may be a remote statistical calculation in the cold calmness of an excel spreadsheet, but out there, you don’t want to tempt fate. I was painting fast a furious through this one. When I finished, I quickly put my gear away as the cold wind was ushering in the advance guard of the big rain droplets. As I drove off the farm the heavens opened up with a torrential down pore. I was so glad I timed it


  1. Bravo pour l'ensemble de ces peintures, quelle plaisir et vitalité débordante avez-vous eu ce jour-là...

  2. merci. C'était en effet un jour merveilleux.

  3. Zan, you are on to something big with these quick little spontaneous paintings. I like these effects you are getting and in this case less is more!

  4. Your work is amazing - glad I found you. I really love the first one you did in the morning. Saw it on the Plein Air Artists ning network. These remind me a little of Lanford Monroe. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Anonymous5:07 am

    You were scared of standing in the grass on a farm? Wait til you paint in real wilderness.


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