Painting Plein Air, or…Is That a Bear?

"Eureka Pullout" or ?... (8 x 10 palette knife oil painting)

Plein air painting (painting outside, instead of in the studio) is something I’ve been trying to tackle lately. “Tackle” might be a strong word, but consider what takes place. First, I must prepare supplies and not forget ANYTHING. I’ve remembered paper, paint and palette, then forgot brushes, not intending to finger paint. I’ve remembered a water bottle only to forget a container to hold the water, an important element in watercolor. If I remember everything (and never do), the next hurdle is to find a place where the wind will not blow over the easel, the sun isn’t glaring into my eyes, and bugs will not carry me away. A nice view is a plus, but that brings up the third hurdle of what to paint, or maybe what not to paint? I gather the equipment I’ve remembered and look around. From one side of my peripheral vision to the other and as far as my head will turn each way, I have to focus on one small piece of what is around me. All of it won’t make it into the 8 x 10. Then there are the distracting sounds of birds, wind, traffic and possibly the footfall of a moose…or was that a bear?

I wonder if painting might be the easy part of plein air, but my efforts don’t indicate this. Focus is obviously key and a major hurdle. I’ve decided that for me, painting on site is sketching and gathering information. At this point, I don’t think I’ll attempt to complete a sale-able piece.

One day, at the end of my school bus route that meanders through two mountain ranges (which shall be explained in another blog), I pulled my yellow chariot into a pullout near Eureka Lodge on the Glenn Highway. The colors were stunning with purple mountains, red hills, green trees and golden grass. I pulled out my bag of supplies, this time using oils. I sat in the pullout on a little piece of foam and played with the palette knife and colors. It was so much fun and I didn’t even mind when some Japanese tourists looked over my shoulder. The photo above is my first plein air seen by the public. I’m happy that it says “mountains, trees, grass” and reminds me of the fall air around me as I sat in the gravel, looking out at the mountains and glaciers with the clouds drifting by.

Normally, I don’t have a problem coming up with a title, but “Eureka Pullout” just doesn’t speak to me. Do you have any suggestions?

On another note, I’m trying to get this blog as user-friendly as I can and hopefully I’ve set it so you may leave a comment without leaving your email address. If it doesn’t work, here is my email: If you want to subscribe, however, you must leave your email address and every post will go to your inbox. How often do you think a blogger should post? Please let me know your thoughts and any suggestions you have. I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Painting Plein Air, or…Is That a Bear?

  1. Plein air is certainly not for the faint of heart, and takes a tremendous amount of practice. But like your study demonstrates the rewards are worthwhile! I enjoy your blog quite a bit, but the long horizontal format is difficult for me to read. Using a different wp template may help with that.

  2. Pingback: I Brake for Eagles « Creating in Alaska

Post your comments and thoughts here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s