Out in the open air

As I said in yesterday’s post, I had a GREAT time with all my birding out in La Grande at the Ladd’s Marsh Bird Festival. In addition to my birding, I joined a group of painters from Art Center East to paint en plein air out at the bird watching sites. In other words, I took my painting kit!

So, Friday night I had checked into the camping spot and was watching the river go by, when it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to do some sketching.

I hadn’t brought a lot of actual watercolor paper, so I used the “regular” paper in my journal to do some color sketches.

It was really nice not to feel rushed, which made me realize that when I get out I tend to be a little frantic, worried about capturing the light and getting done and… everything.

So, with the whole day ahead of me on Saturday, with nothing to do but paint and watch birds, I resolved to work on enjoying the process.

I had picked out a painting spot on Friday (spot #5) and when I sat down, I tried to remember not to hurry and started out with some sketches.

Then moved to some value sketches.

Then, I applied some paint onto real watercolor paper.

I like where this is going, but I think it isn’t as “designed” as it should be. While I still have to do something with the water (it’s not going to stay paper-white) I’m not finding a good “path” through the painting. There are a lot of interesting areas, but not a cohesive painting.

When I realized that I had hit the edge of the “plan”, I decided to stop on this painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another painting in the same spot, but I decided that the refuge probably had at least one more painting spot to offer. So, I packed up and did a little exploring of the west end of the refuge.

I’m glad I did, because the camas was in full bloom, and any artist who says they don’t want to take a stab at painting a purple field is lying.

I did this value sketch, but the road was in full sun and it was just too hot.

So I moved about 100 yards down the road and did this sketch and painting (which no reference photo to compare. Oops.)

While I think this one is sufficiently designed, I was having trouble getting the values correct on site and was starting to overwork some areas, so I decided to pack up before I ruined what I had. I’m glad I did, because this one is looking better to me at home.

This weekend marks the beginning of “plein air” season, and I think it was a good warm up. I also think that I’m going to invest in a real watercolor easel this year.

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