I attended my 3rd session with the Austin Plein Group today at the above location. It’s a beautiful location situated on the south fork of the San Gabriel river in Georgetown, about 15 miles north of Pflugerville. The weather for the 2nd day of August was superb. Normally by now we are suffering from 38C/100F + temps which means by 10am you are in the mid 90’s. However, we are having an unusually mild summer with a couple of ‘cold’ fronts coming down from Canada, leading to cooler night and daytime temperature. So by the time I arrived at 10 am this morning it was only in low 80’s with scattered clouds.
As normal with painting outside, I had the usual dilemma of what do I paint. I began by looking down the river with a tree to the side. I made some tentative strokes and vaguely sketch out the tree and the point where the limestone bluff wall of the river converged in my perspective. At this point I decided I wasn’t up to the task of this view, I have no idea how to paint a tree, especially so close up in my view. I need to look up Cezanne a bit before feel comfortable with that . So I quickly dipped a paper towel in the turps and scrubbed it off.
I then turned my easel around and looked directly at the bluff across from where I was standing.
my camera skills are not good but this basically the scene I was painting.
I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to make a nice little landscape extending along the river bank. I just concentrated on trying to interpret what I was seeing with paint. I was going to abstract what I could from a very limited view and try to get down what I was seeing. I find it very difficult to focus on an expansive view, I get lost basically which is why I find landscape so difficult. My eye is wandering from place to place. So limiting my view, I thought, would help. It did to a degree.
8 x10 Linen Board
This is the resulting painting. As I painted I realised I have never painted water before. How do you paint something that can appear to be flat but have depth plus is constantly moving. Then there was the limestone bluff, so many colours. I could have spent many more hours there but thankfully, the crowds came to bathe in the river and it was time to pack up for the day. For about 90 mins of actual painting time with a walk to car and a chat with the group members in 2¼ hrs I was there, I wasn’t too unhappy with the result, neither was I happy, more a blah, I could so better.
At the next meeting, I am going to try another medium. I told one of the other painters I was using oil paint after years of using acrylic paints and that I was finding it difficult not to mix the paint on the canvas when I was applying paint. She suggested using water-soluble oil paints as they dry quicker but not as much as acrylics. The local art store was having a sale today, so I got some Lukas brand colours. I realise they aren’t up to the standard as Holbein or Windsor & Newton but it gives me a chance to try them out without too much cost associated with them. I might try them out with my new still life setup.