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GO TO YOUR ROOM !

I borrowed this phrase from the recently deceased Canadian painter Robert Genn who believed that there is only so much we can learn about how to paint from the many fine instructors and resources available today. The true learning comes from going off on our own and doing it - Go to your room!

I have had the good fortune to take instruction from outstanding artists in Canada and the USA. I am now focusing on my own development ( Going to MY room!) and sharing what I have learned and continue to learn. I created this blog primarily for those attending my workshops to keep in touch and to further share as we grow together. If others are interested in following that would be great.

Enjoy the journey.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Acrylic Plein Air PLUS Imagination and Play




A major goal for this year is to become more confident with plein air.  That means LOTS of plein air starts. I am finally getting outside a couple of times a week. Weather is still cool, days are short and mostly cloudy and dark. It is the earliest in the season that I have tried. Two hours would be max time for me; coffee-bladder plus cold. Which is actually good because it forces me to think and act quickly and limit my work to starts.  

I have decided to stick with acrylics for the next month or so. With acrylics I generally make two or three or more starts per outing. I usually look around, make a few to many thumbnail sketches of what I think might work then sketch onto the panels and usually choose different formats and size for each. Because it is slow drying this time of year I usually come with panels prepared with some ( usually dark and warm)  under painting. During the warm season I usually roughly draw in the large shapes then develop the under-painting with transparent darks and use my colour shaper to pick out a value plan. 

Anyway, I was out a few days ago. It was dull, dark and cool. Set up with the intent to see if I could just capture the feel of the day over the local waters.  Made four starts looking at different viewpoints. Total time just over two hours. 

Like working off the tail gate


You can see my acrylic set up in the free ArtByte - side bar 
I have gotten into the habit of making two or more starts at the same time to allow the acrylics to dry. I work on one for a bit then move the another while the first dries. Also forces me to think and work quickly which generally makes for a more simplified and stronger statement. 

12x16

9x12

8x10  and I think you can see the red iron oxide underpainting in the two bottom.

So I don't think too much about them. Just put the sketch on linen and go home. That's  important and a good reason to make more than one and to not have time to tinker

Once home they go into a frame - no matter what I might think about them - and I spend a bit of time looking and considering - WHAT IF ?? .  I use my critique form and ask my self the questions - starting with the big ones first: is there a dominant colour, dominant  value, centre of interest, etc etc 

I saw something in this group that I liked - or at least enough to put more thought into them. They needed more drama and a stronger center of interest to draw the eye. 

And this is where the WHAT IF and IMAGINATION comes in. I don't use a photo reference but simply think of what would make it stand alone as an interesting piece- nothing to do with what I saw when I made the sketch. Its not about being correct - but about making it attractive and interesting ( and it also needs to "read" considering the subject). Because it is acrylic I can start to play and go back and forth, often glazing with a dark transparent or scumbling with a opaque. 

I won't go into details but I played with the overall value pattern in all of these. Using a partial or complete glazing to drop the value down - think it was Golden Payes Gray Liquid - then pulled up some contrasts with opaques. Tried to let some underpainting peek though where possible.  I also saw that I needed, or thought I did, something to complete the full value range and to draw the eye. I chose to put sails in the distance - very simple with  single stroke. But what was fun was that on the first I splashed spots of thin titanium white and thought I had lost it. Then I thought, what the hell, they look like stars so I used my new handy Liquatex splash tool and added a variety of sizes and values. Strictly serendipity - but I liked it.

And that is my approach to trying to finish the plein air starts in the studio - sort of a thoughtful play and hope something my come of it. It might take days of looking at it before I have an ah haaaa moment and decide what to try. 


Starlight Sail    Acrylic 8x10




This one I decided to play with more drama by adding warms to the sky and land

These are very simple pieces. Not much to them - but they are fun to do and the more simple the statement often the stronger the piece. 





2 comments:

  1. These are so very beautiful, Brian. Just love staring at these!

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