I presented several demonstrations outdoors. The first one was on site in Radda. I wandered around the town to get a feel for where I’d like to paint; then I set up my equipment, took some photographs and penciled in a quick sketch. The students looked around the town for suitable spots where they might like to paint, and then we gathered around my easel for the demonstration, which took me about 45 minutes.
On the day we spent in Siena, several students met for lunch, and sketched at a little café overlooking the valley. Eleanor and Bonnie then “went to the wall” to complete their pieces. Chris and Laila found a lovely little spot where the owner gave them permission to paint and even honored them with an umbrella for shade. Marcia, Mary and Susan completed their sketches, while Tess wandered around town to soak in some “Italian.”
A plein aire workshop is not only about painting; it’s also about experiences. It’s true that practice is an important component of learning how to compose a successful painting outdoors in the elements while tourists are distracting you, the wind is blowing and the paint is drying, but time spent in plein aire is a time of opportunity. The artist will take home some pretty pictures they created, many photographs of magical moments that may become work in the studio, sketches that will become masterpieces, and creative ideas that will provide artistic food for a lifetime.