Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Hot Here, Too!

Here we are in mid July in the mountains of Northern Virginia and it's just as hot here as it was in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I've had plans to paint en plein aire, but this kind of weather makes it an unsafe proposition for me.

I was able to paint outdoors at Sky Meadows Park in Delaplaine, VA, on Tuesday. I began at 11 am in the morning and I was out by 2 pm with a nearly completed painting. I've had to take it back into the studio for tweaking and, believe me, if there's anything that needs corrections, it's always the values. Values is the topic that students hear me harping about but.... it's nearly always true: once we adjust values, the painting is improved.

As for successful plein aire painting, I believe comfort is the first issue to consider. Next comes simplicity in both subject matter and supplies. In this heat, a watercolor painter needs water to drink, snacks, sunglasses, hat,a small portable chair (I have one that's a camping chair, with side pockets and a marvelous tray for my palette: I sit in comfort) and an umbrella if you need one. I generally find a good spot in shade to set up: that's imperative in the heat. My camera goes with me everywhere and as soon as I set up, I take a number of photographic references, so I can complete the painting at home.

My watercolor supplies are greatly reduced: I take several sheets of pre cut paper, masking tape, a very small portable corrugated plastic board with a handle, my pre filled palette, a few favorite brushes, water, a spray bottle, paper towels and a container. Most of these things can be put into the pockets of my chair. Simplify everything and take very little.

Once you sit down, and you've taken photos, select something you can paint easily in an hour or two.

I'll be posting the picture of my Sky Meadows painting soon. Be looking for it...

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