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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bringing a plein air painting to completion in the studio

"Luther Pass Ranch" 9x12 pastel - the finished painting

I have been painting plein air for about 3 years now - almost every Monday - year round.  About 10% of these plein air paintings I feel are completed right on location.  That leaves about 80% I need to do a little tweeking at home...or maybe an hour's worth of work...or maybe just a do-over.

Here is a painting done in November and just finished the other day in the studio (above).  It is done in pastel on white Kitty Wallis sanded paper mounted on museum board.  This pastel paper is no longer available.  I really liked it, so I went in my stash of older "disaster" paintings and took them out in the backyard and rinsed them off with a hose.  There was a ghost of the painting left.  Especially a ghost of the watercolor underpainting I did.  Even a soft brush could not get it all out.  No matter.

I then layered these wet papers with paper towels and towels under and over the top and weighted them down to dry with heavy books.  Once dry, I put them in my plein air kit to take out in the field.

Here is the plein air painting:
plein air painting
With this painting I also did a watercolor underpainting.  Fortunately the ghost painting was not too strong to confuse me.  It was a blustery day and getting windier so I just did a light sketch of the lower half.  The paper is really showing through.

So in the studio I wanted to do more refinement of the dark evergreens and soften the background with greys and violets.  I wanted the foreground to still be loose, but more pastel coverage.

Now, I have a stack of about 12 more paintings to finish....onward!