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 2¬ľ 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.