An On-site Gouache Painting
You’re invited on a painting trip…..these jaunts to make a small painting are usually short and sweet! A friend at a workshop once suggested that I could take people with me in my car on these plein air rides. This one is all cyber so you don’t even need a seat belt!
I try to make these on-site qouache paintings as often as possible. I used to do 3 in one sitting, moving from location to location, but I found that doing just one per outing worked better. For me, the amount of energy brought to the task is the first thing I look at. If TOO MUCH energy is expended in a sitting, that will be remembered the next time around, and I’ll be less inclined to venture in, because I’ll remember that the trip was rather taxing. So doing just one per outing is a good fit. I always work in a very intense way, so the work can be draining, even if I’m not at it for hours at a time. One of these excursions might take a bit over an hour.
I’ll show the progress of the piece from start to finish and I’ll show the set-up and tools I use. This whole process is very portable, easy to set up, and easy to take down, so the painting session, though hectic, remains fairly comfortable.
The first step is to load the car….all the painting materials are carried in a plastic pail that I keep in the studio because these materials are also used indoors…so I move them from place to place. I drive a bit aimlessly through the countryside here, choosing a direction based on mood….I normally do not plan where I’m going in advance. I do look for certain motifs and structures that give me a type of composition I favour. Perhaps I’ll say more about that another time. The light has to be right….clear and not blinding, with very visible lights and darks, and I respond to how shapes interact to compose a space. I also favour a distant view. In the summer I always look for a shady spot and I look for a safe spot to park. If the place is too busy, I’ll move on.
Once I commit to a spot, I try to start quickly, to leave no room for second guessing. I draw with mechanical pencil to map out the composition and suggest the division into lights and darks. I seldom, if ever, correct, or change an initial entry.