Painting outside brings a great offer of subjects: patterns of clouds in the sky, sunrises and sunsets, swelling and dipping of the ground, trees, rocks, roads, animals, people. The variety is infinite. It might seem that it is enough to choose a view, and just copy it on the canvas. But painting is more than that: it requires a lot of planning. For example, setting the point of interest dead in the middle of the canvas or repeating identical elements make for a boring design. As my friend Elizabeth Austin says, being boring is the highest crime in creative work. After choosing and placing the point of interest, the rest of the elements are arranged to support the composition. Some trees might be added or removes, a path could be altered, a figure sketched in to give scale to the painting. Other things to consider are the unequal proportion of light and dark, the interesting pattern of interlocking shapes, the play of horizontals, verticals, and diagonals, neutral areas to rest the eye, gradations in large and small area, warm against cool, hard and soft edges, color interest, lively brushstrokes. The result is a very personal interpretation of the immediate scene. Painting, like any other creative process, requires unlimited learning, and brings continuous challenges and joy.
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A Year of Plein Air on Horsebarn Hill