Plein air Saturday at Lanier—Mixing it up

This weekend I was trying to get sharpened up for my trip to Charleston and the plein air event on Saturday 10/20. I’m looking for a bit more light and excitement in my work and I can’t blame in on the weather. Just two days a week are not getting me enough practice —I need to pick up another day at least to really make a jump. Of course I’m reading and studying every chance I can, but nothing beats doing it.  None-the-less I was pleased with this view of Lake Lanier done on Saturday afternoon. I went to Buford to pick up one of my paintings from the Tannery Row show and hit the lake on the way back.

I read an article in Plein Air Magazine this last week about painter John Cosby. He abdicates mixing up color before you start painting. This is a practice that I myself utilized with some success in the past but recently have gotten away from. It takes some time to mix up the paint and when you are trying to catch the light I tend to get panicked and go right at it. The problem is running out of color and not being able to remix that exact “note” again. I also have been getting bit outrageous with my under-color. So with this 9 x 12″ I slowed down and premixed about six dominant colors and then adjusted them, lightening and tinting as I worked on this placid scene.  The time I lost – nearly 40 minutes, I made up not having to remix paint. At first I was going vertical with is view but after a few rough sketches I decided to try a horizontal, another good decision. The paint went on quick and I used my big flat almost exclusively for the entire painting. The light was bright and I was able to use two rows of trees set in front of the water with good shadows to provide a dramatic frame for the lake in the background. I worked a lot of grayed greens and blues into the far background and as a sailboat approached I was able to put it in rather simply.

I knew I was hitting with all cylinders when several onlookers were shocked with the results and spent many minutes watching as I worked. Sometimes I’m a bit shy but I was feeling confident and was as delighted as they were. I was encouraged by the result and determined to stick with the procedure on my next attempt.

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