Plein Air or reference photo

This is a typical beginner dilemma En Plein Air and from life or from a reference photo. Beginners convince themselves that reference photo is as good as painting from life. After all cameras these days are as good as human eye and reference photos are great way to create a wonderful painting

pleinair03

Why then go through the trouble of setting up a mini studio outside , figure out what to paint .And why is everyone passing by looking at me !!! ?

When I first started doing plein air I was shocked to find out how easily human eye defeats the best of the camera. Your eye can see what a camera is not able to see.

pleinair05

In the photo above , I was at a beach in Maine and my camera was hardly capturing any thing besides 3 bigs shapes namely – Beach , Ocean and Sky . But my eye was seeing way more and is reflecting in the painting.

Plein air is challenging because building visual literacy is slow process that takes lots of practice. But it is amazing joy to be do plein air painting.You learn to simplify the subject. you learn to modify the subject and you learn to create the mood.

pleinair02

But plein air is function of lots of factors so you are dependent on weather a lot.

My paintings changed a lot once I started doing plein air. At times when I unable to do a plein air I take lots of pictures of the place and try to remember as much I can and then paint indoors.

Plein air is great a way to improve your painting skills,build visual literacy,learn composition , learn how to paint fast and work in changing light conditions . All these things push you to become a better artist.

 

12 color limited watercolor palette

When I started painting second time in my life, I dabbled with a lot of colors (notice I did not call it a hue lol). At one point I have had around 40 plus different colors and pans from Winsor & Newton , Van Gogh and Daler Rowney. Mostly all student quality.

As the time went by my palette started showing me which colors I was using a lot which colors I was using a little and the ones that I used once in a great while and a bunch that I have probably used once to just test the hue on paper !!!

It made me realise  that I can probably get by with fewer colors. So I started researching that if I had to cut down by how much should I cut down !!

This is where it starts to get interesting . Because every artist is different, Every artist’s style is different and therefore every artist recommendation is different.

so I DECIDED of my own to start with 12 colors. There was no rule, no guidance or any of that sort for why 12 and why not 18 or 24.

I am writing this blog post after using 12 color limited palette for 8 months.

Well first things first ..take a look

palette

Once I decided on the number 12. Next was which brand . Since I have been using Windsor & Newton and Van Gogh . I thought It was time for give Daniel Smith a try. I have seen lots of artist use Daniel Smith and I was also wanting to move to artist quality so I decided Daniel Smith.

And ordered by 12 tubes on eBay !!!

Here is what is in my palette

12-color-palette

Did u notice no cadmiums !! Yay !!

All the names of Hues are from Daniel Smith , These might be named differently for different brands.

I got lot of help from hand print .com and Jane Blundell’s blog.

But ultimately I had to decide which 12 colors I want . General guidance of course being cool and warm of each primary , Earth colors , Mixing green and black or neutral tint or…..

Hope this is helpful, If you have any questions leave me a comment . I will share what I know.

 

Washington Park , Albany NY

This week I went to an urban sketching event to Washington Park in Albany NY. This park is located right in the heart of Albany. During the course of year there are many events in this park   like Tulip Festival , Christmas lights and other cultural events.

This week there was a latin american cultural festival . I took the opportunity to paint vendors selling fair food and serving huge crowd accompanied with cultural events at the stage. Park was very lively with all the people celebrating latin american culture.

Here is spot where I set up my easel.

Washington park

As this was late in the afternoon , Vendors have started to pack up by the time I was almost done (Well an artist is never done with a painting lol).

Washington Park

There were few more details added after this.

Here is the final Plein air product

Washington Park

Washington Park

 

Urban Sketching

I have been doing some sketches locally . Recently I have ventured out to few cafes here in Albany . I wanted to do a post as I am excited to do more of such sketches. I have not been interested in doing pen and watercolor. Well that was until I actually did it. It turned out to be lot of fun.

First Sketch below is done at Short and Stout tea at western ave . It is locally run business and friendly owners.

ShortandStoutTea01-RSW-WP

This is how finished sketch looked like.

And below is the picture after the sketch was complete.

ShortandStoutTea02

 

Just in case you are wondering …I has basil sweet tea . It was good. !

Next sketch was done at Starbucks at Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany. It was a relaxing Sunday morning and I had hot caramel Macchiato . It was lot of fun watching people come and go for morning coffee.

Starbucks01-RS-WP

This sketch has quite a few white areas. In reality that is not the case. When you start sketching you realize that most of walls are black and dark grey. With watercolors it is so hard to paint against black backdrop .

Picture below shows really how black and grey the walls are .

Starbucks02-RSW-WP

I am excited to see how these sketches would change as I keep sketching.

If you have any questions do leave a comment !

Thanks for reading !