Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Sunshine

Bank Barn, January Sun 16x12 pastel, copyright 2012

I've been thinking about tackling the challenge of plein air painting a lot lately, building up the courage to try it again.  My last few attempts have ended in frustration.  The most difficult thing for me is finding a focal point.  Using photographs is so much easier because I can crop and shift the frame around until it suits me.  And the light never changes in a photograph.

But the light and the colors aren't 100% accurate in photographs and subtleties can get lost.  So I decided to try it again yesterday, taking advantage of what was most likely the last unseasonably nice weather for awhile.  Our bank barn is a natural focal point and one very familiar to me.  In the warm afternoon sunshine I sat out on our driveway for a little over an hour and painted this pastel while fending off a cat that wanted to sleep on the pastels and a German shepherd mix that thinks she's a lap dog.

Working quickly is essential since the light is constantly changing, so I left out a lot of details like brush and stonework and focused on basic shapes, light and shadow.  By the time I finished the shadows had shifted and were creeping up the side of the barn.  I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out - the high contrast is something that probably would have been lost working from a photograph.  A few minor touch ups this morning finished it off, mostly just cleaning up the lines.  Now that I know that I can do it, I'll have to try again next time the sun shines.  Of course it may be awhile before that happens.


  1. Kudos to you for both getting out there and for producing this lovely piece!

  2. Thanks Sue! I think I'm hooked now, I want to do more plein air painting. In fact I tried today, but the interesting light from the freezing rain suddenly changed to near white-out snow. But hopefully I will get to try again this weekend.

    It looks like you've been keeping pretty busy, have you had a chance to work on your skull yet? ;)

  3. I agree, on location is quite a challenge. I like your barn. The painting and the building it represents. Good job.