Went out for the first time this season, and having not painted in plein air since last Fall (and that in pastels) and ended up with a mud bath. Not that I stepped in mud, but I did just about everything wrong that I could do wrong and my painting turned to mud. Ugh!
I’m not happy with this. But in the interest of full disclosure and to track, what I hope will be progress from here, I’m going to post my painting as awful as it is and try to explain all the things wrong with it. First for myself, so I can document and improve from a solid critic. Second, so those of you who hope to get out painting understand you can recover from really bad days and maybe learn along with me what not to do.
So here is the painting on site:
Issue #1: Overly complicated subject. Not sure I could I picked a more complicated scene to try and paint my first time out. But I fell in love with the little shed with the sunlight bouncing off the side and doorway. I could have “zoomed in” closer and spared myself a good deal of foreground brush, but I would have been standing IN the brush which makes everything more uncomfortable. Ironically, I was at a beautiful beach with outstanding views and passed them up for this crazy little shed.
Issue #2: Sun. Lots of it. Standing right in it. Had umbrella issues and did not move myself to a shady location. I was wearing a hat with UV protection and a long sleeved coat (it was a bit cool yesterday morning on the beach), so I was okay. But I need to remember come summer, that full morning sun will result in sunburn for me if I’m not careful. So, seeking the shade is very important.
Issue #3: Drawing. Apparently I have forgotten how to do that. To slow down, really get my shapes correct. Here is another views of the painting. See the shed roof line? It’s a shed, not a house. In any case, the roof is just wrong and it throws off the rest of the shed drawing. For some reason, I was reluctant, once I got something going with the shed, to allow it to half disappear into the brush. Looks like a little pathway leads to it in the woods. Not even close.
Issue #4: Local Color. What a lush, green forest I painted. Not this struggling pine grove in the middle of it’s spring shed. I need to take more time to evaluate and mix the colors. Some of this may have been caused by standing in full sun, but just because I mixed something doesn’t mean I need to use it.
Issue #5: Atmospheric Perspective. I just lost it. It started off in there… those grey deciduous trees behind the shed were painting in originally. You can see little hints of that grey in there still, but I just kept putting more paint over them. I should have stopped.
Issue#5: Foreground: I’m not good at foregrounds. It’s one of the issues I really want to improve this year. But this one is particularly awful. I wiped it out and wiped it out again and finally gave up.
So, what do I like about this little painting? I like the sky and the tall trees in the mid and background. I like how I was able to cut into the trees to get some interest in that wonderful blue sunny sky. I also like the light on the side and doorway of the shed. The shadows coming across the tree trunks ain’t too bad either if you look at them up close.
So, the solution: this one is either going to sit around for a while and wait to be painted over, or I’ll throw a big party for all my artist friends and we can light a big bonfire and burn up all our painful painting memories while enjoying margaritas or mimosas and maybe paint a painting of us all painting…