Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Plein air ideas 9

I have taught plein air painting off and on for twenty five years , maybe more. I forget. Over the years, and particularly recently, I have noticed I am teaching the same things over and over. There are a handful of faults that I see every time I teach. Let me load some bullets into my clip and here they are;
  • The painting is in all middle values with the contrasts so suppressed that the painting has no punch.
  • The values of the lights are confused with the values of the shadows. The lights are not consistently brighter than the shadows.
  • No attention paid to color temperature. The picture is executed with no regard for which notes are hot and which are cool. This is particularly true with painters using three color palettes, which don't lend themselves to the expression of color temperature.
  • Drawing is haphazard or done without much care or delicacy.Often this happens to painters who value velocity or brushwork over drawing. Usually painters with studio backgrounds, or better still, atelier training seem to have a better grasp of drawing the landscape.This is a failure to look very closely at the landscape.
  • Designs that are overly symmetrical or too"stock" usually that means big tree on the left balanced by a field on the right. 
  • An uncomfortable closeness to the nearest objects in the painting. The footlights are set in to close. They are painting everything from their toenails to the zenith.
  • A line which seizes the viewer in the foreground and directs them into a collision with the side of the frame rather than into and through the picture
  • An underpainting in a hideous and assertive color that poisons every note laid on top of it. This is usually explained as something a previous teacher ( who was REALLY good!) had insisted was the only way to do things.
  • every color in the painting is as bright and saturated as it can possibly be painted. A lullaby played on kettledrums and air raid sirens.
  • A cursory "that's good enough" effort without a real intent to create something special. The painting is banged out in a short period of time and without much reference to nature or an attempt to design or bring anything personal or original to the presentation.Usually this is cured by developing an awe for the wonderful work of some deceased artist who becomes a yardstick against whom the fledgling tyro can compare themselves.
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I am going to be teaching a workshop this july in New Hampshire. Check it out here.

9 comments:

Durinda Cheek, Fine Artist said...

Let me be the first to say, "Quilty on all counts." You have nailed the most common missteps in plein air painting. I see it in my work and others. Thanks for giving me mental notes this past week to take with me as I paint.

Julie Ford Oliver said...

I could see my own errors as well as many others in this great reminder. Thanks.
I would like permission to use this guideline in my classes - giving you credit of course.

Deb said...

"A lullaby played on kettledrums and air raid sirens."

Okay, that one is worthy of a neck tattoo....

these are really excellent notes.
I've made most of those mistakes.. well, okay, probably all of them at some point, but now, I have this
Stapleton Kearns voice-over in my head when I paint.. it's sort of like you are my fairy godmother or something...
all these pithy little quotes that keep me focused and directed.
Perhaps we need a set of CD's.. Instead of "Lead the Field", it could be "Paint the Field"
(subtitle: not the grass at your feet or every detail of that barn, or the wire on the fence, and remember to smuggle red")

Sonya Johnson said...

I'm enjoying this series of posts very much - thank you for taking the time to share with the class.

I'm guilty of committing some of these bulleted crimes from time to time, although through lots of reading of blogs like this, studying Master's works, and re-reading of Carlson, etc., they are getting fewer and far between. Well, hopefully, anyway.

I do admit that I sometimes go outdoors to paint with no intent to produce anything special - just to work on a particular concept (lost & found edges) or subject (trees...always a challenge). Like batting practice or a cellist playing scales...it all has value, although that may only be recognized down the road a bit, in the performance that really counts.

"A lullaby played on kettledrums and air raid sirens..." - made me burst out laughing when I read it. Brilliant and pithy quote, that is.

Robert P. Britton, Jr. said...

I'm guilty on the color front. I love color...it's what drives me in painting, then value.

It's hard for me to tone it down and move into neutrals.

mariandioguardi.com said...

a lullaby....not all of us want to be put to sleep by a painting.

Simone said...

I especially like the last bullet point but would like some clarification on bullet point two. Are you saying that the error often made is a failure to keep lights consistently brighter than the shadows? I can think of instances when a "light" on an object with dark local value may be darker than a "shadow" on an object with a light local value. Please elaborate. Thanks.

JonInFrance said...

Hi Stape, didn't know you were back!

"A lullaby played on kettledrums and air raid sirens"

That's me - the Spinal Tap of painting - volume at 11! :(

Teresa Cowley said...

Bookmarked... thank you, thank you!