Friday, June 29, 2012

Painting plein air with a flash mob

(click on image to enlarge)

Haro Strait shipping lane
Watercolour and gouache
©2012 Charlene Brown

My April 26 post included a conversation with a roving artcritic at Copan  that led me to think a less defensive, more confident approach to The Drama of Painting Plein Air would be a good idea… and a pleasantly confident approach might be a great idea. 
I got a chance to test this thought when I joined a plein air painting group, the Al Frescoes at Willows Beach here in Victoria. The Al Frescoes operate on a flash mob basis… gathering anytime after nine every Friday morning at a location that’s been emailed to everyone a couple of days in advance.  During the morning, quite a few of us took time to wander around and look at other works-in-progress.
I should mention that when the following Drama of Painting Plein Air took place, Haro Strait shipping lane was pretty insipid, and the clouds were too dark and just about everything else was too light. I wanted to be open to input from anyone who offered a suggestion. So, for the first time, I resisted the temptation to display my expertise by launching into a listing of my painting’s faults.

Fellow watercolour artist (the best kind of roving art critic): Mind if I look?
Artist: Of course not – I’ve just been doing the same thing myself.
RAC: I see you’re still at the ethereal stage... pale Prussian blue is a great way to start Mt. Baker.
Artist: I wish I could be adventurous like the acrylic or oil painters. (I had noticed that a lot of them  kept painting over their pale but realistic starts with just about every colour they’d brought along.)
RAC: They have the luxury of being able to go back to ‘ethereal’ if ‘bold and dark’ goes wrong. But we’ve always got gouache! That cloud bank around the mountain cries out for gouache!
Artist: What a great idea!  But I didn’t bring gouache because I always use it fresh out of the tube and I don’t bring tubes on location.
RAC: Those clouds will still be crying out for gouache when you get home.  It’s better to wait until your painting is really dry anyway – then you get to decide how much colour to stir up with the stuff…