My first year of Plein Air has come to an end. By my count, I met with the group “in the wild” 23 times and “in house or yard” 8 times. I also went out on my own 8 times.
That’s 39 plein air painting trips for my first year, and I’m satisfied. Over all, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give myself a “4” for painting effort this year. That’s an improvement of a point or two over previous years. And over half way to an impossible high of 6, maybe 7!
(Haven’t painted outside for the past three weeks, after all ;))
By the by, I am finally finishing up a small portrait of my nephew for my sister. She has been waiting a year for it. Landscapes have made me want to do other paintings, purely so I can start and finish something without a time limit!
Looking forward to “Plein Air, Year 2.” Happy 2018!
Well, painting a car is even less forgiving than doing a human portrait, if you ask me. Even the straight lines of architecture allow for some imaginative leeway. A car’s lines, however, are smooth and hard and precise. Too high or low or long or short and you don’t get your car, you get your neighbor’s.
I really ought to take two weeks and study just the painting of plants. These are rather terrible. Lots of stuff could be improved, but I have reached my “good enuf” quotient on this painting. He’s a bit misrepresented, actually… what you don’t see are the big hole in the driver’s sun visor… the splitting of the vinyl along the tops of the doors where the sun shines… the wonky drink holder… the back window we had to screw shut. Aw. I miss him. He only had 163,000 miles. I really do think there were plenty of miles left.
Oh, yeah. This will most likely be my last painting for the September 30-in-30. I finally remembered that we’re having house painters in for five days next week, and that won’t be conducive to getting much of anything done. They’re going to be in every room, and we’ll have to keep moving stuff around to give them room to work.
Aside from not feeling like there’s time, I haven’t had the urge. I have learned that this is not the death nell of the whole endeavor; the drive always come back.
In the meantime, I have been reassessing my approach. Looking at the two-and-a-half portrait sketches I did earlier in January, I am unsatisfied. I have captured likenesses, but they look too mechanical to me. Boring. No life.
I would like, someday, to do portraits for others. I figured these “others” would only care about likeness, so I have favored techniques that ensure likeness. I am working from photos, because working from life…the ideal…is not…welcomed. People I have asked to sit were not keen on the idea. So, photos it is.
I started my earliest portraits with a grid. Then I graduated to just using a ruler, making measurements, and marking out the location of “tip of nose,” “width of eye line,” “bottom of chin.” From there I am able to come to a likeness.
There is an art concept: Painting is not about copying what you see. It is interpreting what you see. I wasn’t really sure what this meant until I had my own lacking examples and could see I had gone wrong. It will mean, for me, no ruler prompts, no pre-drawing. There may be less likeness, but there should be more life.
It will be hard to allow myself to be inexact, but–Hey! I’m figuring it out!