As I am looking toward the Art Walk on June 10-12, 2015, I decided to work on some small pieces based on my sketchbook work from my travels. This is one of those although my travel was only an hour and some Plein Air Painting...
I love the golden, yellow canola fields. It is such a happy, bright yellow, I feel a warm glow inside just looking at it with the bright greens on the edge. I was with a friend who lives out in Vegreville. We went driving until we spotted something interesting. And then, we would stop and get our our painting supplies and do a quick painting or sketch. These three storage buildings in the middle of a field were not too far off the road with the field of canola stretching as far as I could see. Butterflies and bumblebees were flitting around the flowers. Glorious! 5 x 15 inches.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:2
South Korea is a beautiful, mountainous country. What a fun adventure to travel and meet up with our daughter, Reena, who had been living with host families and attending grade 11 in South Korea for 11 months. We experienced her fluency as she conversed with the people around us as we traveled, shopped and ordered food. We even spent an energy filled sports day with her school, which was a peek into the Korean culture.
We learned to say the greeting phrase and the phrase for “thank you.” We stayed in people’s homes with airbnb. We ate with chopsticks. We took the public transportation in the cities and we rented a car for the last week to go into the countryside with a Korean language GPS system that Reena got to type in the destinations in Korean.
I took 15-30 minutes here and there to sketch and do mini watercolors in my watercolor sketchbook. From these and the phots I will be able to create new artwork in my studio this year. Here are some of them...
One of the things I like to do in the summertime is to go out sketching and painting “en plein air.”
En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛn ɛːʁ]), or plein air painting, is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning "open (in full) air". It is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, also called French: peinture sur le motif ("painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees"), where a painter reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of the painting. This method contrasts with studio painting or academic rules; those might create a predetermined look. (Wikipedia)
It is different to paint from life than just using photos. Photos tend to flatten the image. When I hike, I take a camera and at least a small sketchbook, much to my family’s chagrin. (I had to learn to sketch quickly and take photos on the go, but I seem to be perpetually lagging behind. After all I had an agenda – capture as many ideas/ photo references as possible.)
Even so, it is nice to be with people who don’t mind sitting still for a bit. I have a friend who invited me to Kananaskis Country several times. 3- 5 days of hiking and painting and relaxing with no one waiting for me to get done. On these occasions, I would pack up a backpack full of supplies and carry them the distance and come home with a mostly finished painting.
When hiking, I want to get a great picture or idea – and capture it. I would come home with hundreds of photos (with digital photography it is thousands of photo references!) and a few sketches for the depth perception. From these, I start planning paintings. I sometimes go on a hike with a specific idea for which I am seeking sketches and photo references.
I enjoy taking the time to sketch, but it isn’t just the need to paint what I see that draws me to the outdoors. I have learned that sometimes it is nice to even just sit and absorb the beauty without trying to draw it. It feel’s a bit like I’m “drinking” in God’s creation. There are so many metaphors in creation that lead back to God. In the stillness of just being present, as I sit and listen and wait in quiet, I can hear and see the metaphors and things that God is whispering to me.
For God alone my soul waits in silence… Psalm 62
It has been a long journey, this learning to wait, to enjoy moments, not to be rushing on to the next thing to do or paint. For me, it is a process of letting go of agendas, of accomplishment, and of worrying about making the people around me happy with me. At times, I fall back into the old patterns, but I am learning to recognize this in myself. On a hike I don’t take quite so many photos, and I sit and absorb as much as I sit and draw/paint.
A couple of years ago, my husband, Sam, and I took a trip to Europe. Since we were flying, I had to find compact art supplies that I could take on the plane. Traveling light. Now it is my art/camera travel bag for wherever I am going – hiking, road trip etc. I can even pair that down to a smaller size and take just the essentials.
This Saturday morning (July 23), I will be teaching en plein air on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Devon. I will be teaching sketching as well as painting: how to capture what is before us; what to paint, what to leave out; and eye training. There is still room in the workshop, if you would like to come.
Are you curious about what is in my art-camera bag?