Monday, March 23, 2015

Plein Air Painting- Oakley, UT

Last Saturday, I went out painting with friend and fellow painter Richard Hull. We ventured up to Oakley Utah to see if we could find a worthy subject or two for the day's efforts. My first painting subject was chosen based largely on the contract between the muted yellows and greens of the pasture and the black Angus cattle grazing in it. We were dealing with a distinct lack of color as the winter browns and grays have not yet given way to the vibrant greens and yellows of spring, so we looked for subjects that provided value contrasts more than color. Attempting to paint anything like a herd of cows from life is a failure waiting to happen and I knew that if the cows shifted too much, I would get nothing more than a quick indication of placement. As it turns out, about 45 minutes into the piece and just as I was getting ready to place a few cows, the ranchers came and herded all the cows away into parts unknown. I guess the cows will now be painted in studio.

We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch with another painter friend Don Weller, whose fantastic watercolor work I profiled here in an earlier post. He and his wife Cha Cha joined us at the Road Island Diner for some seriously good chow. I had the Turkey club which was delicious and featured the juiciest roasted turkey and thick cut bacon I have had on a club ever. The shoestring onion rings were wickedly crispy and delicious as well.

The Afternoon session was a bit of a challenge. For the first time all day, the wind kicked up and a steady strong breeze hampered our painting. The same wind resulted in shifting skies and light that went from sunny to overcast every few minutes. I didn't realize how tiring it can be to try and make steady brush strokes while chasing a moving target both literally and figuratively. Not only did the lighting shift at inopportune moments, but my easel and arm felt the brunt of wind gusts as well. Al in all, I think it was a productive day.

Richard would disagree as he wiped off both of his attempts. I told him he was being a bit hard on himself and probably should have held off until he could evaluate the effort in the studio, but he insisted that "crap was crap" and was okay with obliterating his efforts. I usually wait until later to sand off my failures, but that's how it goes sometimes. My wipe offs came early in the process when I realized my drawing was way off. The barn was especially challenging in the wind and I never did get it right. It's a little too tall and I only had room for five posts under the shed roof, but that's fine. I still like the effort and I will once again look forward to fixing a few things in the studio to finish these up. And add some cows.

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