Artists who step outside their studios
take a leap of faith. When you determine that you are ready to create a plein
air painting, you take a chance with lighting, composition, color, and time.
All of these are variables that you need to contend with to get your outdoor
Artist Robin Purcell takes that leap
of faith and has been richly rewarded with her plein air watercolor art. Painting
outside, she doesn't shoehorn what she finds into what she wants to paint. Instead,
she makes magic with what she finds, and this is key to an enjoyable and
rewarding plein air painting experience.
|Summer Oak by Robin Purcell, watercolor painting, 10 x 12.
For example, in Purcell's plein air
painting Summer Oak, the artist
observes a scorching hot afternoon when the sun is at its highest, and she sees how the reflected light turns the top leaves of an oak tree
deep orange, while its lower branches remain a verdant green. When she walks
above a field of wildflowers that still have lush color to them but are
surrounded by woody purples and browns of nearby scrub trees, she jumps right
in and makes the most of it.
|Wild at Heart by Robin Purcell, watercolor painting, 14 x 14.
Painting outdoors can be a panacea if you are
feeling constricted and uninspired in the studio, but I remind myself that
taking those steps outside means you are playing by Mother Nature's rules.
That's more than OK with me, but you have to be open and not take
those small and simple gifts of beauty that you see around you for granted.
They're the ones that need painting most!
But before I get too ahead of myself
on the beauty of the plein air approach, I remind myself that painting is not
only a leap of faith; it is also a skill-based enterprise. One of the best
places to get foundational painting techniques--as well as to learn more
advanced methods for plein air watercolor painting--is from an artist-instructor whose work you admire. An artist that fits the bill is Stephen Quiller and his DVD, Water Media Foundation for the Painter is a
stellar resource for mastering watercolor techniques and the 8 hours of instruction (yep!) will open your
eyes to even greater possibilities with the medium. Enjoy!