Whether you’ve painted before, or are simply interested in learning how it’s done, this is your opportunity to expand your knowledge and expertise.
In May twenty professional artists from Gary Pendleton’s definitive book, 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid Atlantic will come to the river to paint. Together with the community they will create the first Heart of the River Art Collection. The essential element in their success in capturing the inspiration and essence of life at the river is communication and understanding. That’s where my team of docents will play a leading role!
I invite you to join me on Friday, May 5 OR Saturday, May 6 morning for everything you need to know about plein air painting.
Watching the pros paint with an economy of brush strokes is an inspiring thing to behold. And like golf, it is proper etiquette to hush while they do their putting.
Not to disturb Carolyn’s inspiration, I kept my distance and quietly snapped a few photos while she puttered her way around the bronze woman in the garden. Notice how Carolyn’s form is similarly posed as her model?
Docents will be on hand to answer questions and help folks find the artists as they move their palettes from green to green, hoping to catch just right shot.
Since moving to “the river” in 2000, I have been trying to capture that shot myself ~ that ahaaaa! sigh one feels arriving at the river. What does that feeling look like on canvas? I believe each of us would see it differently. And so with this very special festival, we have a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists and inspire them in creating the first ever, Heart of the River Art Collection.
Putting Around and Discovering You CAN Fly
“Do you want to paint the marshland trails?” Carolyn asks, directing my attention back to the day’s activities.
Yes, but I already have my easel set up in the garden. I want to putt around with this tulip poplar. Just swing a few strokes to get loosened up. Like the putting green, painting a small canvas of a few buds on the tulip poplar got me back in the mode of thinking on the fly.
Thinking on the Fly
I hadn’t been out of the studio painting since returning from Tuscany over a year ago. I wasn’t sure I wanted to paint this day. Yet I let Carolyn coax me out of my winter doldrums.
Not wanting to carry a lot of paint, I squeezed out colors in the studio. Guessing at which colors I might need, this time of year a lot of earth tones and lavender.
I didn’t think about the possibility of finding something in bloom! Good thing I grabbed two tubes of red on my way out the door. Ruby Red and Cadmium Red Light gave me one warm and one cool ~ yet not the truly cold Rubine Lake of the blossoms on this tree.
“Do the best with what you have,” echoed the voice in my head. Keep it simple. “What do you really want to say?”
Taking Your Best Shot
I decided to take a shot at contrasting purple red with yellow gold, purple and yellow are opposite colors. In this case I would be softening them with earth tones.
I took my shot at a simple abstract branch shape to fill a small 8″ x 10″ canvas panel. My canvas was pre-toned with Gold Ochre primer. Without any white canvas to distract my eye, I started with the opposite lavender shape of the tree.
(Yes, I said lavender tree! Painting trains your eyes to see subtleties of grays. I chose to push these grays toward lavender to contrast with the earthy ochre yellows of the pine straw.)
Discovering that Something Within
I felt the sunlight. And the smell of the moist earth beneath my feet. The leaves crunched as I stepped back and forth to the easel. Sun dipping lower by the minute, colors of the flowers deepened. Since I didn’t have the Rubine Lake of the blossoms, I responded with the opposite adding more brilliant French Yellow Deep to my Gold Ochre.
Knowing when to stop is something you learn. Creative energy is meant to flow easily. When it starts to feel like a struggle, it’s time to quit. I picked up my easel and moved to another tee.
This is the first in a series, “Plein Air Painting in the New Golf” Follow it and other stories on The Painting Lesson.
Some painters want to finish the painting on site. Others prefer to take it back to the studio and putt around with the finishing touches. Still others would rather use plein air as a sketching opportunity.
“I don’t feel the need to finish it. Instead I would like to do several more studies in different times of day, morning light, or perhaps stronger light and shadow,” said Carolyn Dudley about her painting.
“When I look at it I can feel the fresh air and smell the earth in the garden. It takes me back to the exact moment I painted it. I like that! It’s complete the way it is.”
I agree with Carolyn, I relish in the time we spent together painting. I too chose not to tweak my color study in the studio. Still wondered about the simple abstract shape of the tree. So I did another larger experiment in the studio.
I was hoping to answer my earlier question, ‘so what do you want to say?’
I wanted to say how I felt about being coaxed out of the winter doldrums by Carolyn. I think this painting says it all. It’s the energy most artists get from the experience of slinging brushes of color at canvas. Exhilarating!
Thanks for coaxing my out of my shell! Let’s go again.
We’ve all heard of pastel colors, jewel tones, and earth colors. But what are they ~ really? What makes them what they are? And why should you care?
If you don’t already know which of these 3 palettes is YOU, take a moment to scan the 3 images below.
Which one draws you in?
Which feels most comfortable to you?
Which one IS you?
Is there one you hate?
Jewel Tones Palette
How do the Jewel tones make you feel?
Jewel tones are pure pigment, or nearly pure pigment. Very saturated colors. Intense.
The colors in this painting; Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Violet, Vermilion, Magenta, Veridian, Cadmium Yellow, Turquoise have been mixed with just enough white to bring the color identity to light.
The dark center of the flowers is Prussian Blue pure pigment. It appears black, but is not. If black were substituted for this color, it would appear lifeless and dead.
Charvin Jewel Colors
Ruby Red, Rubine Lake, French Red Light, Diamond Orange,
French Yellow Orange, French Yellow, Anise, Meadow Green, Peacock, Emerald, Intense Turquoise, Deep Turquoise, French Cobalt Blue, Deep Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Rembrandt Vermilion, Rembrandt Quinacridone Rose, Sennelier Rose
Now let’s look at the colors in this pastel palette. How do these colors feel to you?
Pastel tones are the same pure pigments, mixed with white. This dilutes the pigment. The dark in this example is actually Shadow Green. Mixed with Provence Blue, the color beside the full strength Shadow Green feels pastel.
Please note: this is an oil painting, not a pastel painting. My discussion here is about pastel tones, not the medium of pastels.
Charvin Pastel Colors
Naples Yellow, Incarnat, Celadon Green, Green Gray Light, Water Green, Tropical Green, St Remy Green, Deep Opaline Green, St Remy Blue, Caraibes, Royal Blue, Bright Linen, Leaded Gray
Earth Tones Palette
How do Earth Colors make you feel?
Earth colors are created from pigments found in the earth, Carmine, Red Earth, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Siena, Charcoal, Zinc White. These elements are literally dug from the earth and ground up fine like sugar. This granular pigment is then used to create oil paint, acrylics, watercolors and pastels.
Charvin Earth Colors
Yellow Ochre, Raw Siena, Transparent Yellow Ochre, Pouzzoles Red, Aubere Pink, Raw Umber, Savana, Green Shell, Deep Celadon Green
Here is a section of my pastel palette with one of my color charts. Which palette would you say this is?
HINT There may be more than one right answer!
I see y’all are voting heavily for the Jewel Tone Palette! Me too! However, there’s something I’ve discovered about balancing colors that requires all three. In doing my artist residencies in France and Italy, I’ve discovered a Color Fusion Palette that creates harmony. Here’s an example.
Can you see the difference between Waking Dreams IV and Blooming? Waking Dreams incorporates all three palettes. Learn more about my Color Fusion Palette in my Awakening Hearts Series and how you can use it in your home to create wellness, serenity, and vitality.