Along the Tracks, Ed Cahill, Plein Air Painting

Back to basics—Sunday plein air demo

Along the tracks
Along the tracks

On Sunday I had a 9AM appointment with my accountant to review my taxes. A total waste as I did not have enough info to do anything—Sorry Mike. So after apologizing I drove over nearby to the railroad tracks along Canton Highway—today with my trusted Gamblin white.

This is my friend Don Maier’s stomping ground and I’ve seen many of his crisp renderings of the tanker cars that are always parked along the tracks that parallel the road. It was still early and I found a good spot with a few of these cylindrical shaped cars and a nice grouping of trees. I was determined to get a bit more color in on this start and I did with a bit of blue background treatment and three different colored tanks. Also as the sun backlit the scene I switched the silhouetted trees to orange—simulating that effect you get when your eyes get filled with light. I finished up with just a touch of liner work – careful not to overdue it. All in all, finally got one in the win column.

With both of the paintings this weekend I did some small pencil sketches first. Always a good idea and a big yes on the list of things I encourage to starting plein air painters. A good tip is a nice soft leaded mechanical pencil.

As I’ve shown, when you get bad results go back to the basics. Composition foremost. This one works abstractly with a strong lead in and converging shapes and a distinct foreground—mid ground and background.  Do a few thumbnails and work out the best view with a good soft pencil so you can get tones in—not just outlines. Then rough that onto to a board with a piece of vine charcoal or a small brush.  I then do a accurate dark rough in with slightly saturated color. Next step work overall building up details—not too much. Finally I paint the light, concentrate on those good strong lights and shadows. Easy to say, hard to do sometimes.

I’m not an instructor but It’s no mystery and it’s like everything . Practice— a lot of practice makes perfect or at least better.

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