Last painting 2012, Ed Cahill, Plein Air Painting

2012 ends as 2013 begins – in the trees

Last painting 2012
Last painting 2012

Painting en plein air—Nothing beats the enjoyment I have setting up outside and capturing what is in front of me. Studio work is a bore to me now. The weather has been gloomy, cold and wet for the last several days but I did get out and do this rather gray view of the back of the house on Dec. 31st— so this is the last of my 100 paintings in 2012.

Other than watching football yesterday I did a little work on the background of this one. The trees looked too busy and I ended up just simplifying them into shapes with just a suggestion of the trunks and branches. Bare trees are a problem I deal with this time of the year. I do not like the results of a liner brush—too fussy. But I will use the edge of flat for a thin stroke. I’m not sure why I prefer this. Monet was great as this distant trees thing in the atmosphere and I was looking at some of his work while trying to come to grips with this problem (see right). Aldro Hibbard also was great with the sticky trees in his winter snowscapes. His technique is  just a lightly loaded dryer stroke—almost a smudge and then just a bit of the branches. The other solution is a soft color shape and some well places sky holes. John Gurnsey is good at this and I think this works best most of the times but requires a lot skill to pull off. I’m always messing with it too much, it’s a confidence thing. I’ll be working on it all winter.

While I’ve been concentrating on light in my most recent paintings I think that an occasional gray one is interesting just for the mood. This back yard scene may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me it’s good practice. After all it’s still the effect of light you are trying to capture—it’s just harder because it’s less obvious. Harder to paint and harder to appreciate for the casual viewer. Still that Monet guy did a pretty good job of it…

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