Blue Hole Park Georgetown- Plein air

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.

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my camera skills are not good but this basically the scene I was painting.

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full view

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.

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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.

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After the last post, I had a  terrible session at the AVAA  where I ended up doing an almost cartoon life drawing of the model.  I finished the session early, feeling defeated and broken. The above drawing is from this week. Again I struggled.  This was the 3rd and most successful drawing. Below is the worse.

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I can’t even think  what was  I was considering as I drew this. It started off as a very poor drawing  in pencil and then I decided in the last 20 mins to add colour.  I was desperate for it to work.

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This was my first drawing, at least the feet look like they stuck to the ground!  It definitely feels like I am going backwards at the moment. I can see good points in this and the top drawing but both are disjointed, in that parts don’t seem to be connected to each other. It like I am creating several drawings on one page to create one drawing.

My new venture is plein air painting with the Plein air Austin group  and that is tough, not just because of the Texas heat. Again, my drawing skills suck. My first venture wasn’t too bad but I only painted for about an hour as it had taken me longer to find the location than anticipated.  Ironically it is about a 15 min drive from my house but it took me over an hour to find it! I intend to go back as it is a great location.

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This is a very small painting – 6×4 inches and done in oils. After painting in the garden recently and tackling acrylic paint that dried too quickly in the Texas heat, I decided to try out oils for the first time in over 30 yrs.  Yep, now I remember why I ended up painting in acrylics!  I am a messy painter and oils have a tendency to spread if I am near them.  However, I intend to continue and on this Thursday’s paint out, I discovered MUD.

 

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I realised after an hr and a bit  I started out too tentatively and I really couldn’t see the wood for the trees LOL. I was concentrating on the pattern the trees were making.  In the last 30 mins of this painting , I decided to hell with it and just started to load on the paint (still pretty thin to be honest).  I can see I will need lots of practise with oil paint as it so different from acrylics.

Plein air is also reminding me how nerve-racking painting with a crowd can be. On  the first paint out I was able to concentrate as we were in the middle of nowhere but this week we were in the middle of a very public garden with tours for young children and mothers trying to entertain toddlers for the summer.  On top of that, there were the very loud peacocks wandering around. Memories of my days at Corsham abounded with the ‘theo’ calls that were constantly in the background.

This week I will task myself to go to the  local park several times and just draw as I seriously need to just draw and observe more.  Now I know I can tackle the heat, it might not be so bad. I am also working on a still life which has taken too long basically because my drawing skills are so poor.  However, the basic drawing is now done, so now the painting can commence.