Painting outside isn’t something that I have really done before beyond a few watercolour sketches in a sketchbook. I haven’t done anything formal. Have to say that the idea of having to take stuff with me somewhere and the need to complete a painting in daylight within a strict time frame before rushing back to do whatever I have to do next (usually child related) including having time to unpack my kit does not install me with a feeling of great joy! However I did make an attempt on three occasions. However, on the first two days I had set aside time, the weather was not conducive to painting. The first time was during a howling a gale. Trees were coming down and I made the decision not to leave the house!. The second time I had available was a miserable day and it was pouring with rain. I wanted to paint a landscape of a valley a short driving distance away. This would enable me to load the car with my kit and park up next to the view thus saving time me valuable time. On the second afternoon I ventured out in the vain hope that the weather would clear a little. I sketched the view from the dry of the car. The rain didn’t stop! I went home.
I returned two days later. The weather was still miserable but the seemingly constant rain had turned into showers and whilst the weather was still murky, damp and chilly, I was lucky to have a relative dry period to complete this exercise. I returned to the same place, with the intent of painting the above view. However on actually getting out of the car I found a spot about 5m to the right where the trees in the foreground were more in view. I was also able to crop in on the view to leave out the near fence. I did another quick sketch of the largely unchanged view although the trees could now be a point of interest to lead your eye to the trees in the middle distance.
The actual horizon (which on a clearer day is visible above the tree line) was obscured by murky cloudy/mist. The far fields merged into this murk. I wanted to try to get this lack of horizon across in my painting.
I really didn’t enjoy the whole experience which was a shame. I found it hard to manipulate colours on a palette (paper plate) without a table as support. I found the time pressure constantly interfering with my thought processes (even through I had set an alarm to avoid exactly this) and then on top of this, I was ill-equipped: I had brought oil paints and a canvas board, dilutant (liquin), brushes and palette knives but NO tissue paper for wiping brushes (or hands). Valuable lesson, never pack your kit in a hurry (or at least double-check!!) With nowhere to put brushes down safely other than on the paper plate, they constantly rolled into the paint and the handles became covered, colours accidentally mixed and I got covered in paint. In fact reflecting back, the whole thing was slightly comical!
The upshot of it all was that all this negativity transferred into my painting which ended up quite unsatisfactory as I ran out of time before I could rectify the many things wrong with it. I would like to go back and repeat this exercise but doubt I will have the time before the end of the module.
I am a little ashamed to put this up as a finished painting – because it isn’t. The ploughed field is too warm and light and leaps forward at you, the bright grass in the distance should also be cooler (and I am pretty sure there wasn’t a white field in front of them both! The foreground trees are of a boring shape (too much like the reality) – I should have incorporated some interesting branch shapes and included a greater variety of tones. The valley itself is too bright green and appears flat rather than a hill curving away from the viewer. The depth of the valley is evident through the darkening of the green towards the bottom. The tones of the middle ground trees are probably ok, the plough field jumps forward of them causing your eyes to water! The one thing I do like about this is the sky and the disappearing horizon. You can’t tell where the actual land mass is, and this is quite how it was on the day.
Onwards and upwards….