September 10, 2012
I’ve recently finished two paintings. One contained images of three relatives and that one took forever. I usually use a palette knife when painting but for this one I had to use brushes and small brushes at that. The faces were the hardest, but the hands were a close second. I don’t do portraits very often because there is so much detail and if you get the least little detail wrong of a face it doesn’t look like the person it is supposed to.
The second painting I mostly did sitting in a field last week. It’s the one you can see above. It was done almost entirely with a palette knife and was painted as fast as possible because light changes very quickly outdoors. A good thing about plein air painting is that it requires one to be bold. You have to slap on that paint without regard to whether each tree limb is in exactly the right place or what those flowers would look like individually. It is called impressionism for a reason. It’s just an impression but it is your impression. When you get it right you can look at the result and almost feel the sun on your back and the wind moving those branches. And if you don’t, you can always take the canvas off the stretchers, throw it away, tack on another canvas and start over in a different place another day.
We can’t paint masterpieces every time. But we can learn from our mistakes and not be held back by the fear of failure. No matter what the result, it is good to be outdoors without the distraction of electronic gadgets, gazing at the countryside in autumn and letting that paint fly where it may.