Leopold Plein Air Painting

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Great morning of painting this morning with the Geelong Plein Air Painters group.

I started the group basically to find some other plein air artists in the Geelong area. We are small in number but no doubt will grow in time. So this morning Moyra, Ferdie and I set off to the Gateways Sanctury in Leopold.

I have driven past a hundred times and did not even know that it was there. Great spot for some plein air painting.

In the above photo you can see that I did not end up painting the sanctury but instead chose the view of the farm next door. At this stage I had basically started out doing dark washes and placing the main shapes.

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In the photo above you can see I am progressing the painting along by blocking in key areas like the distant hills, the foreground grasses and starting on the sky.

You might be wondering where the large tree is in the foreground and why isn’t it in the photo … well sometimes you just need to move things around in order to get the right composition. So the tree is actually just off to the right hand side of where I was standing.

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Here you can see I have progressed the painting along a fair bit. I have probably been working on it for an hour and a half at this stage. This is always a tricky part of the painting, especially plein air, knowing when to stop. I have a tendency to start fiddling which is not always a good idea. As an example … the cows … I fussed over them way too much at this point.

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This is my set up … I have a fairly compact set of gear now. The French easel collapses down into a transportable box … and a small bag caries everything else.

Best thing I ever did for my plein air painting is to get the French easel.

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This is where I finished up. As you can see I added in more foreground details and a few posts.

I will let it dry off for a few days and then assess it to see what else is needed. Probably pick the bugs out as well 🙂

Mornington Art Show Exhibition – Painting of Portsea (Part 1)

Mornington Art Show Exhibition – Painting of Portsea (Part 1)

So I have decided to enter the Mornington Art Show which is happening from 18th January to 27th January.

The first big question then is what on earth will I enter for the show?

Always a challenge for the artist … picking the perfect subject to enter into an art show. There is no real right or wrong approach … however one thing I have noted from previous shows is that larger paintings tend to stand out from the rest (as long as they are done well). So I have decided to paint 3 or 4 larger paintings, for me anyway, and then pick the best two to enter into the show.

I am often asked by people how I approach a painting so I decided to create a series of blog posts documenting the painting process as I paint possible entries for the Mornington Art Show.

The first thing I did was go back through my old photos … I have over the last couple of years collected more than 5,000 photos so I have lots of reference material.

Here is one of the pics I chose to paint … it is a view of one of the little harbours near Portsea. I like this image because of the framing of the trees and the strong foreground darks they offer.

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One of the key things for me is keeping a limited palette so I will be using just a handfull of colours for this painting:

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The colours on my palette are Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Titanium White. And as you can see … I use just a few brushes … one for initial wash.

I start off by using washes to establish the darkest darks. Its an approach I learnt from watching a few Allan Fizzell DVD’s. Allan is a great landscape painter in NSW and after watching his DVD’s twenty or thirty times I changed my basic approach to painting. Cheers Allan!

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You can see in the above photo that I have mixed up a dark wash (very runny) and placed in the darks. I had previously done a pencil sketch using the photo. I love the dark wash approach as I started out as a watercolour artist and always loved the washes 🙂

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Once the washes start to dry off a bit I start to work on the sky leaving room for the clouds. I could have just as easily started with the water mass. Its best to leave the initial wash to completely dry so you can then work around the darks in the sky easily.

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A little more work on the clouds and then I have started to block in the water, the rocky ledge in the water and the sandy part of the water. One of the things I love about painting these Portsea / Sorrento bayside scenes is the variety of tones in the water from dark blues, to dark greens and through to the light greens. People who are familiar with the area will know what I mean by this.

At this point I have pretty much completed the block in … I played around with the clouds a little more however I decided to stop at this point for a day or two and let it dry off a little. When I come back to it I will work on the distant water and headlands and strengthen the colours in the sky.

Please check back in a few days for the next update.

Glen Eira Artists Society “Paint In Park” Day at Caulfield Park

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Glen Eira Artists Society “Paint In Park” Day
at Caulfield Park

I was very fortunate recently to take part in the annual Glen Eira Artists Society “Paint in Park” day held at Caulfield Park.

It was a terrific event and an opportunity to paint plein air along with fellow artists.

Here I am at start of the day mapping in main shapes:

Faye Kirkwood

Image by Faye Kirkwood

Caulfield Park is an ideal spot for such an event as it offers a range of different subject matter. As you can see from the photo above I choose this view of the path as it curved around. When I started out painting the sun was casting great shadows across the path which was one of the key reasons I choose this. Naturally though the sun soon hid behind the clouds and made only a few brief returns during the day.

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Adding highlights to trees:

Image by Rina Reiss

Image by Rina Reiss

A big congratulations to Glen Eira Artists Society for putting on such a great event. At least 26 artists took part in the event … so it was a huge achievement getting them all organised and having the event run smoothly.

I imagine that trying to organise a group of artists could be a bit like herding cats at times.

In above picture you can see I have blocked in the darks and have been working on the sky and grass areas.

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Close to finishing and discussing the paintings merits with a passer by:

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Image by Gillian Schofield

The event went for approximately 5 hours … that is a long event for painting plein air. Typically plein air artists would paint for a maximum of 2 hours in one session due to the changing nature of the light.

Well on this day we had all types of light conditions, wind and some rain (part of the fun of painting plein air) and most of the artists managed to get close to finished works on the day.

You can see my progress above … this is about where I left it and made a few corrections at home a few days later.

As you can see below the event was well organised and run:

Ray Burgess

Image by Ray Burgess

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It was great at the end of the day to see the finished work of the other artists. During the day there was not a lot of opportunity to do so as artists were scattered through out the park.

As you can see there was a huge variety of subjects and approaches to representing them.

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All of the finished works are now on display in the Fourth Annual Paint In The Park Day Exhibition.

The exhibition is running from 2nd December 2013 – 15th December 2013 at the City of Glen Eira Gallery Annexe.

If you are in the area why not drop in for a look.

Here is my finished framed painting that you will see in the exhibition:

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The painting is for sale and can be purchased here – Click For More Details