I have been taking to the road occasionally with a Half-Julian outdoor easel trying my hand at oil painting in the open air, commonly referred to as “plein air” painting. Artists have sketched outdoors for generations using their field work as source material for larger works. Plein air painting has become an art form in itself. This process became much more accessible with the development of pigments in tubes which allowed artists to take their materials conveniently out of the studio. I believe tubes of paint and the outset of photography provided the motivation for the Impressionist movement to depart from traditional, representational studio painting in the 1800’s. For painters like myself, trained in still life and indoor figure painting, it is an experimental adventure to be “ out there” with paints and brushes trying to capture what I see. I admire those who do this regularly. Photographs cannot record the outdoors as can an observant eye, a controlled brush, and dedicated perseverance.
When I introduce sea rovers (or other figures) into the tropical environments I paint, as I did with “Drawn to the Sea”, an authenticity of place combines with my figure research to achieve a more truthful result, provided I successfully integrate light source information and perspective issues.
The location where I worked on “Tree Huggers” is a spot next to one of the hiking trails nearby which is left to grow wild. I was attracted to the dappled light seen through the foliage at sunset also repeated by the lichens on the trunk of the oak. I revisited this spot with my painting kit several times with this small 10” x 8” gesso panel as the light is so transient at that time of day. And because mosquitoes get so hungry when the sun is setting!
I suppose I am a true tree hugger at heart. We do all we can in our household to support the environment and lower our ecological footprint. This past year we had 42 solar panels installed on our studio roof that supply our home with solar electricity during daylight hours. Now, no matter the colors I employ in my work, every painting I do is “green”.