Grey Day at Lake Anza, plein air (mostly) oil on Gessoboard, 10x8"

Grey Day at Lake Anza, plein air (mostly) oil on Gessoboard, 10x8"

Only two of us showed up to paint at Lake Anza in Tilden Park on an almost-drizzly, grey Monday morning last month. The air smelled fresh and clean and it was so quiet there; a wonderful change from the noise of the city just a few miles away.

I painted most of this onsite, with some corrections and clean up later in the studio from the photo below.

Lake Anza reference photo

Lake Anza reference photo

One of the corrections I made was to the little clumps of marsh grasses on the other side of the lake (barely visible in the revised painting). They had been my focal point but I realized when I got home and looked at the photo that I had made them three times bigger than they should have been.

Yesterday I was painting in Sonoma and saw the same problem when I got home: I painted some distant trees way bigger than they should be. It’s interesting to me how as I focus on one element of painting and begin to improve it (like composition, values, color, etc.), I discover another area needing work. Next time I’ll pay attention to measuring/comparing sizes of the things in the painting.

While I’m still miles of canvas away from mastering plein air painting, at least I am beginning to grasp the principles and see that while there are many important concepts to consider out there, the list isn’t endless (as it once seemed). Maybe eventually it will become more automatic like driving; I’ll  still have to pay attention and keep my eyes on the “road,” but I won’t be driving over curbs, crashing into things, or totaling my car/canvas.

Advertisements
Category:
Art theory, Bay Area Parks, Berkeley, Landscape, Oil Painting, Outdoors/Landscape, Painting, Places, Plein Air
Tags:
, , , , , ,

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. The first step is always important to go on a longer journey and your initial efforts towards plein air painting is fabulous. I liked the ambiance in this composition and the soft reflections on the water is lovely!

    Like

  2. I agree with padmaja, I love the reflection in that water. Even if the trees are not the size that you prefer, they do work in the painting–the water is just narrower and the trees closer. But I have a big problem with sizes, myself, so I hear you. And as padmaja says, it’s a long journey…So thank you for taking us along with you on these journeys because it’s such fun and we learn so much from them.
    annie

    Like

  3. I am so impressed that you paint with oils plein air! Are you still using the water miscible oils? I think you’ve turned out another great painting!

    Like

  4. This is lovely! The warm foreground greens, the cool distance, the water, the mossy feel to the tree trunk. I have that problem too, of getting too focused and not realizing I’ve made unintentional changes to the scene. We get to edit the scene any way we want to, of course, but it’s best to do that editing first, as much as possible.

    Like

  5. Nice work! You inspire me.

    Like

  6. Nice work on those reflections. I’m glad you referred to the smells of the fresh air too – it’s something I always remark on -such a pot-pourri of scents when out in the country!

    Like

  7. So that feeling that it is ‘endless’ does eventually lessen? That is good to know…though I’m not there yet!! Love this painting!

    Like

  8. Really nice work. I think the key to good plein air is simplification. Plein air is tricky and you are doing very well and are learning more everytime you do it. Great job!

    Like

  9. Dear Jana, I think the most important point from your “list” may NOT be becoming a “master of plain air painting” but to achieve exactly the same mood of a scene as you see it and as the foreign viewer may see it too, be it outdoors or indoors.

    “Mastering plein air painting” I would refer to technical skills only but these are void if the above is not achieved. I think you caught exactly the mood of the photo/day view with your painting. Everything else such as keeping the right proportions etc. are minor issues which can be easily corrected with certain tools such as a grid even for plein air painting. In my opinion they are unimportant and should not irritate if not quite correct.

    Like

    • Petra, thank you for this very thoughtful and interesting response. That is indeed my ultimate goal, and also the thing that frustrates me since I’m often unable to express that view because of need for stronger mastery of technical skills. But each painting brings me closer to that goal, even when it doesn’t reach it. You do make me see though that even when a painting isn’t technically perfect or correct, if I got across my feeling of the scene or the day, then I’ve accomplished something important. Thank you! Jana

      Like

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: