I can usually tell when I have done a strong plein air painting. It “reads” well. Somehow has enough strength to exist without the fancy details, realistic and finicky small work that I tend to do in the studio. Lots of practice and patience. No not really patience…but deliberate “withholding”. Trying to keep the shapes bold and simple and the freshness of the initial impression.
I guess the hardest part of inspiration is to know when to stop.
After several hours working on location the drain from concentration, bright sun and physical tension sometimes makes it hard to make objective decisions about the final touches. I have to bring some pieces home and re-visit them later with fresh and less weary eyes.
I don’t wait long as I like to use the same paint that is mixed in my acrylic palette that I used on site.
Sometimes I use my photo references for some structural detail – but I always establish the basic value areas while I am on site. On location – I do the line art (rough drawing in loose paint) and fill the darkest and the lightest values with basic color (as in the photo above).
As I do more painting I challenge myself to avoid the old habits and traps that I usually fall into. Using larger brushes and stiffer paint instead of tiny details. This is just a choice of mine. I have been working for years for a “looser” impression – but realize that a strong underpainted drawing is part of what I like most on the paintings that I deem “successful”. That is of course all subjective. Some folks love the details.
This is one of the Plein Air frames from Classic Framing with a 9″ x12″ panel. I like the wide border for smaller paintings and these work really nicely with my strong darks with a touch of rusty gold trim and leaf under warm black.