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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #31/#32

#31 - "Evening Cloud"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/05/19 (6pm)
Today's two paintings are a continued experiment to paint thickly. I have found it to be a great way to create interest in a subject that isn't super inspiring. That and pushing colour. (I've included a photo of the scene I was working from - there was quite a bit more blue sky when I started.) Here's what I'm learning about applying thick paint:

  • Soft brushes don't work, needed to break out the hog hairs to get a really loaded brush
  • It's really hard to get a lot of paint on the panel
  • Ignore frustration - just keep putting paint on til it looks right. What's interesting about this one is that when I'm painting thinly, the more I work it the more the life gets painted out of it. When working thickly, it seems to improve with continued effort. Not sure what that's about, but when I figure it out I'll get back to you on it.

#32 - "Spring in the Rockies"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/05/19 (7:30pm)
Had to remind myself to keep varying the brushwork on this one (direction, size and shape). I am finding it is easier to keep modifying the painting with an impasto approach because for some reason thick paint breeds a more cavalier attitude. Perhaps because I feel that I have much less control than when painting thinly, so I decide to relinquish my need for it and just go for it.


  1. You're an inspiration, thank you! I like the thick paint, I see lots of complementary color vibrations going on.

  2. "Go for it" you did and very successfully! I especially like the second painting. You did a great job with the cool and warm colors and a great composition.

  3. Color harmonies are gorgeous--you are really getting the hang of it!

  4. Liz, love your little paintings. Also, I like that you are posting what you are learning as it helps all of us. I am curious if you take your reference photo first, look at it, and then paint your actual painting. Or do you just paint and then take a reference photo to finish up if light, clouds change? Having only painted one plein air myself, it seems the photo first would be a good way to "see" the compostion before starting to paint. Am I making sense?

  5. I love your clouds. And thanks so much for including the photo, it is a lesson for me in not being too literal, your painting is a nicer scene. Have you thought of using a black background to make yourself paint thick (to cover it up)? I wonder if painting with a knife for a few sessions would also push one in the thick direction. You don't seem to need any aids though!

  6. Thanks you guys!

    Verna, I usually take a few photos before beginning to aid in finding a composition, and also as a reference when I get home if I do a larger piece from the field study. I try to stick pretty close to how the scene looked when I started throughout the painting, but if the light changes in an interesting way I take photos for future reference.

    Bobbi, I'm pretty sure a black ground would really throw off my ability to judge value correctly, and a palette knife is something I need a serious lesson for, I feel all thumbs whenever I pick one up!

  7. Beautiful.
    The top one illustrates perfectly how to paint from a photo, not copy the photo. Your painting is infinitely more alive than the photo.