Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Roller Coaster Weather

We've had a few days of rollercoaster weather -- one day with two inches of snow; followed by a day of sleet, freezing rain and then just rain, which melted all the snow; next, a day of howling winds and whitecaps on our normally placid bay; and today, near-50 degree weather. What's a plein air painter to do?

Roll with the punches, and be prepared for anything!

The day we had the rain, I stayed in the studio. I decided to do another in my series of self-portraits with hats. Here is "Big Red Hat (Self-Portrait)." This 8x10 oil-on-panel was a lot of fun to do. Not strictly plein air, of course, but certainly done from life by natural light in front of my big picture window. I still have a few hats waiting in the wings for future self-portraits.

Today, I couldn't resist going out. However, because of some house renovations we're involved with and the fickleness of contractors, I couldn't go out for long. I was given one hour and 15 minutes -- which included walking from the car, setting up, breaking down and walking back again. I think my actual painting time on this 8x10 was about 45 minutes. It was done so fast I don't even have a title for it yet! I'm very pleased with it. Sometimes, being under the gun can make you paint better. In this case, I had to follow the rules I give my students: Paint big shapes with a big brush and exaggerate the value contrast. (I do try to follow these basic rules of plein air painting, but sometimes other issues present themselves, and one is forced to compromise.)

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