Hubs and I went for a short Sunday drive yesterday, just to get out, and I took along my painting rig. I only knew about this spot because a good six-plus years ago it was the first place I met with the Thousand Oaks plein air group. (I washed out with them after about five outings).
This is pretty much the same scene that I did that time. The darkness of the trees against the mountain call me. Anyone who has been to Peter Strauss Ranch knows this tree.
(So now I wonder…where IS that way-too-big, did-not-get-past-the-block-in, I-must-have-been-crazy, plein air that I did then? I don’t throw anything away. At least, not in the first year… Hmm… )
Found it. 16″x20″, I was a plein air noobie with no guidance, and had no clue that that was way too big. This scene is a slightly different angle, with the tree I did yesterday to the right. I don’t throw things away because the historian in me likes to keep me honest!
So, anyway, back to yesterday. As usual, when the light is all over, I rather wish I had a organizational scheme that could help me. Or, I come away thinking that I really ought to pair down my landscapes to one bush or tree and then work back up to large scenes like this. Another think is that I ought to be doing much more comparing of values. Still, after a day’s review, I’m okay with it.
Carol and Jane are taking the month of July off, as they both have huge travel plans. My hubs volunteered to go out with me on this morning, and we headed back over to Bell Canyon Park (home of Castle Peak). While I was doing the block-in, hubs took an hour hike/walk before settling down next to me, waiting for me to finish.
I believe that the big tree on the left is the same tree as the one in the center of the first Bell Canyon painting I did.
I noticed again today that I cannot mix that shade of BRIGHT light gold, or get things that are in the sun as bright as they are in real life. Spent an hour and half there, then took it home to finish it.
Over the time I stood there, maybe a dozen hikers happened by, and every path was used.
I saw this scene a week before when my hubby and I took our Friday hike this way. The contrasts were great…purply lavender(?) up front, yellow grasses behind. The hill in the foreground was probably bright green a month ago. I hoped for good weather and received it. The sky was cloudless until about 3/4 of the way in, when I looked up from the foreground and this big cloud had appeared behind the star of the show, just like that.
These purples are a bit brighter than the actual painting; I can’t seem to turn them down in Photoshop. There were also a LOT more green bushes all over the mountain. When I first got here at 10:15AM, two people were coming down the trail in the center. Maybe I should put them in…
I saw about 18 peeps go by on the trail I was standing on. Two young gents with a dog early on were the ones to tell me the name of the mountain. I had my back to another mountain, so no unpleasant sneak-ups. Unfortunately, this put me in direct sun all morning, and I was again taught the useful lesson of “pre-outing palette moisture checkups.” It is tough to get good coverage when your working paint has dried. Momentarily thought about re-taking up oils on the way home, but I rather dread the day.
Figured out that one of my flat square brushes is just too stiff; I’ll take it out of my traveling collection. Decided I don’t much care for the marks that filberts make, but they would be good for rounded forms. Need to break out the medium round brush sooner than I do.
I also took pictures of some really cool thizzles, I mean, thistles. What nasty looking plants! (I want to paint one!) Unfortunately thizzle theason seems to be over since last week. There were almost no beautiful purple blooms left.
ETA 6/14: Every time I come by this page, I see the right swoopy edge of the mountain and how it flies me out of the painting. Now I totally get what an “eye stopper” is. Should have put a bush or tree on that edge!
Well, I went through with it, I went out plein airin’ on my own on Friday. I went back to Orcutt Ranch because there are lots of subjects to choose from there. It took 13 minutes to drive the 5 miles (aren’t all you people supposed to be at work by 10AM?)
I set up, pulled out my sketchbook, and did a small sketch of the main shapes and the dark/light pattern (notan). Other than that, I did none of the other “gettin’ organized” stuff I thought I had decided to do. I drew the subject in paint and then promptly moved it over half an inch when I started painting. No value planes, no color sketch, no revisiting the notan, etc.
What I learned today:
–If I think there is a formula to this plein air thing, I might have another think coming.
–Highlights in the sun: orange is better than yellow.
–I’m a very lazy color mixer.
–I really have to start finding a wall to put my back up against when I paint. People standing behind me are a concern. I don’t care about them looking at my work; I just don’t like wondering what else they’re doing. It’s about safety, if nothing else, when I’m by myself in undertraveled areas.
–I need to step back to look more often. Not just for the art; after standing an hour, I’m rather stiff. Unfortunately, this could be a problem should I find that wall to back up against.
I was happy out there alone; I have always entertained myself easily. I don’t dislike going out with others, but I did find my attention was more focused. That is, less the small interruptions… Friday’s assortment of humanity included the same kid that jogged by three times (I infringed on his circuit), a lady with a beautiful dog who complimented me on my choice of subject, an older couple who stopped and told me to paint in a visiting crow, and three or four others walking through in about three hours.