Saturday, December 28, 2013

Moving with the Weather

Wickford December, Oil on Canvas on Board, 12x12
  Plein-air painting in New England is certainly a challenge , particularly in winter.  This oil sketch (left) was accomplished two days after the "wintry mix" including a little snow had hit.  I fortunately found a muddy but sheltered spot behind the local library which boasts some of the most scenic views of Wickford I've seen.  On this partly sunny day I spent less than two hours before catching the chill that warns this painter to retreat.  The challenge of the composition was the frontal lighting.  As an impressionist painter I could have resorted to some of the techniques I learned at the Cape Cod School , techniques taught by Henry Hensche, but I was, after all , interested in a study , a study of the patchwork quilt presented by this scene.  Besides, the subject matter was a bit complex for me to employ impressionist techniques of the Cape Cod School effectively.

  The oil sketch to the left was done just yesterday at a small marsh in Wickford.  I tried to indicate the remnants of lingering snow , the cold that hung in the air, and the subdued coloring of winter.  Such a location deserves repeated visits to master its interpretation in any artistic medium.  I left when my fingers became numb on this breezy day.  But I'll be back!

Mums, Oil on Linen, 9x12
Finally when the plein-air artist is forced to remain inside, due to the weather acting up, there is always still life composition.  The same habits are required (squinting to ascertain value structure, comparing values and colors, noting temperature and intensity.)  The limitations are all in the light source.  If we are lucky enough to have north light on our studio subject, we can do the same visual/mental analyses we use when doing plein-air work.  If not, our work is harder.  In any case, it is good to exercise the skills a painter always needs -- such as basic drawing skills.

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