By chance, I saw advertising for the big Picnic at David Lam Park yesterday. I emailed a few students of my art classes who lived near, but wasn't sure I was going to be able to get there myself.
Men in Hats, Pheonix art workshops and artists Jennifer Heine were all there participating under small display tents. It was great to see "Marv" again. We have painted over the years at the Grand Prix in Richmond.
It was great to be out mingling with people!!! I did bring a block of Fabriano paper and the least amount I've ever taken for any outdoor painting. I didn't want to be burdened by easel, chair or lots of other equipment. I hoped I could just find a spot to sit and paint spontaneously.
I used a 10 round da Vinci plein air brush, a 10 x 14 block cold press watercolour paper and my Opus paints in their metal plein air case. I took water in a plastic sealed jar as well as some paper towel (blue towel is my preferred) and had this all stored in an old computer bag.
I did look around to see if I could find anyone else I knew in the crowd. Not seeing anyone, I wandered, took lots of photos and listened to the music on two different stages. Then I found a non busy location and quickly pulled out my gear. I was in a curved seated area with grass, cherry trees in bloom, people milling about, blossoms floating in the wind and musical notes playing behind me.
i started with a simple sketch. One tree in the focal point on the right side of the page and then the curved path on the left with smaller trees around. I tried to think of how the tree trunks and branches would be sending the viewers eye around the paper. I wet my brush with permanent rose and plastered it across the paper to get a first layer down. I suddenly realized I needed some greyish blue to bring in the sky at the edges of the trees.
Thinking about it later, I thought I could have pulled the sky colour lightly through the upper 2/3rds of the scene and then dropped in the pink for a more interesting effect - blooms and streaks to create more motion in the trees. I will try this next attempt.
at this point, the paper was too damp to layer anything. My first branch of brurnt sienna and Payne's grey just spread across the light pink. I realized I needed to control the water better on my brush and reminded myself that I needed to tap the brush on the paper towel first before just picking up paint and going straight to the paper. I tell my students all the time about this, but stiil forget myself!
once the scene started developing, it was easier to put in some darker hues. Then the drops of rain started _ which can also have some interesting effects. I decided my body was already getting cold and stiff from the lack of practice plein air painting - so I added a few loose images of oeople, wiped my paints and got rid of the water and headed for home.
I was happy and content to have got paint to paper but also had to quell the critique voice in my head. I had to remind myself that outdoor painting is about seeing the light first hand and capturing the shapes and essence - not about perfect lines or a completely finished and detailed piece. Always a struggle.
I will be forging more into the outdoors to get more practice as I will be demoing May 5th at the Silk Purse Art Gallery for First Thursday's Art Walk.