So what exactly is Plein Air Painting?

I joined a group of Plein Air painters last spring. I am pretty happy with my latest attempt.

Gendron Farm
Gendron Farm

What exactly is Plein Air?

Well according to Wikipedia: En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif (“painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees”) in French.

To me that definition is correct but a bit bland. My definition from my experience would also have to include this list: Camaraderie with friends, challenging your mosquito or gnat threshold, battling mother nature, sun, rain, wind, too hot, too cold, constant changing of light and shadows, having aha moments, juggling all your gear, and the pure joy of painting in nature.

This year I am making some progress. I am getting a little faster. I am understanding the medium of working with oils a little more. I was more familiar with Acrylics, and oils had a learning curve for sure. I find it interesting how you can have a plan of how to paint a scene, but once you get started sometimes it turns out totally different. Sometimes a happy accident and it works. Sometimes – not so much.

Every painting is a chance to learn something new and to build on your skills. There are Plein Air groups all over the country. Grab your paints and tag along – you will be hooked before you know it.

Would love to hear your comments …

Acrylic Painting … or Illustration

I take a lot of reference photos and once in awhile I will get a shot that just needs to be put on canvas. The Barn was a photo I snapped a couple summers ago.

Waucedah Barn
Faithorn Barn

When painting my whimsical characters like silly birds I tend to be methodical, finishing one area before going on to the next.  When painting landscapes I am trying to get an overall feel for the color and then come back in with detail.

I am also trying to loosen up my painting style and be a little more “painterly” as opposed to illustrating with paint.  I envy artists that have a loose style and can paint quickly with lots of expressive strokes.  So far I have been able to speed up the amount of time it takes to finish a painting.

The Barn – Step 1
The Barn – Step 2
The Barn – Step 3

I am happy with the way this painting turned out but it definitely has an illustrative style and not the painterly style I had first envisioned. More practice – more experimenting – more painting fun.

This design is available on Cards, Prints, and Canvas.

Something New – Coffee Series …

This little series of 4 Coffee paintings was just for fun and to play with different colors.  Sometimes you just have to play with paint and see where it goes.  I usually plan out my paintings in detail but for these I just started putting down color and winged it.  I did enjoy going with the flow and plan to do some more just for fun series pieces.

Here they are in the order they were created.

Coffee Break Blog post

Who isn’t in need of this on a regular basis!

Java Cards Blog post

Something a little more festive … visual caffeine!

CupOJoe Blog Post

This felt like a Cup o’ Joe at the local diner.

Morning Mud Blog Post

Morning Mud is for those who make that first cup of coffee so strong that their spoon stands up.

These would look great in your kitchen or breakfast nook!

Field trip to the Alpaca Farm – book illustration

Field Trip to the Alpaca Farm
Field Trip to the Alpaca Farm

I have been working on some color studies for my next book – Field trip to the Alpaca Farm. The story is written down and the text has been mapped out. I have about half of it sketched in chicken scratch. I am just starting to do the real drawing and color mapping. This illustration isn’t a finished product – but you can see where it’s going.

I still haven’t decided how I am going to do this … Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter 5, or Old School with pen and ink, acrylic wash, and colored pencil. They would all work – but they would all come out looking so different. I may just play with this illustration in all 4 styles and see which one I like best.

Luckily, I don’t have to decide today. I would love to hear your comments …