Plein air Sports: Connecting with Nature

Painting en plein air is so often associated with 'producing a saleable product. However, the sport of painting outside is such a difficult game, and if truthful, most artists would say they have many more 'scrapers,' than 'keepers.' Do not be discouraged. This is, in fact, good news!

Connecting with nature, experiencing the subtleties of ever-changing light, and sketching on location is the most efficient use of an artist's time when it comes to sheer growth. Every painting done outdoors will not be ready to frame, but it will be a great lesson.

Against the Wind, 12x9 local tone plein air sketch

In this oil sketch, "Against the Wind," painted along the coast near Carmel, the light changed often. Fog rolled in and out, over and over again. My original visual statement seen here, was based on local tone.

As the sun cut through the fog, light and shadow patterns emerged.  I quickly drew a pencil sketch in my sketchbook to remind myself of the changes. Again, this was an amazing use of my time.  In only moments, I had experienced two huge lessons from nature. Either visual statement is true, but note that they are two completely different statements.

The first half of this video demonstrates how to use the sketch to complete a larger studio work with the same visual statement of three relative values (local tone). The end of the video shows how to totally change the piece to express light and shadow.

As an artist, you connect, learn, make choices, and occasionally hit a home run.

Tree Stand, 28x20, light and shadow studio painting