Spring into Plein Air

Here in the Northeast, spring is finally arriving with its burst of blossoms and bright fresh colors.  It is a relief after the grays of winter, to see some color!

NOAPS Rae HamiltonIMG_0211

“River in Spring”, 18×24 by Rae Hamilton from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

As many of you know, this week is the Plein Air Convention out in San Diego, California, and marks the unofficial beginning of the Plein Air Season.  Even to a committed studio painter, the lure of the outdoors calls when one peruses the glossy pages of that plein air magazine.

NOAPS Julie Pollard

“Country Road” Oil, 11×14 by Julie Pollard from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

Just as a still life painter knows, there is nothing so valuable as painting from life.  In the studio we can control every aspect of our environment, from lighting to content.  Not so true out there in the wild…one must contend with weather, wind, bugs, changing light, and the overwhelming amount of material to paint.  With all those variables, one can not help but admire those sometimes weather-beaten painters.

With a taste of plein air painting on our palettes, perhaps a bit of a refresher course could help inspire.  There are innumerable YouTube videos on painting to refer to, many DVDs, many other instructional videos.  But let’s get down to the basics; a good place to start is the long time favorite of landscape painters, “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting” by John F. Carlson.  First published in 1929, this book isn’t on DVD, doesn’t have soothing music in the background or even a color picture.  But this book is absolutely full of sound, basic information that is essential to the landscape painter.  The book covers topics such as the mechanics of painting, angles of light, values, perspective, color, composition, and instruction on painting trees, clouds and more.  Certainly a must have in the artist’s library.

NOAPS Gary GibsonIMG_0210

“Morning Drama” Oil, 14×36 by Gary Gibson from the 2016 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit

If you are inspired by the glossy photos, certainly a landscape book by such artists as Richard Schmidt, or Peter Wileman and Malcolm Allsop will satisfy; books with in-depth instruction such as Suzanne Brooker’s “The Elements of Landscape Oil Painting” and Mitchell Albala’s “Landscape Painting: Essential Concepts and Techniques for Plein Air and Studio Practice” can prove helpful.  (NOAPS has no interest in promoting these books, these are only suggestions by this author).  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the myriad books available to artist, just a few highlights.  But as many an artist will tell you, the best teacher is yourself at the easel.  Nothing will help us to paint better than understanding what we don’t know, and only experience will tell us that.  But along the journey, be sure to stop and be inspired by all the art around you, both on and off the easel.

To view more of the 2016 Best of America Exhibit, visit http://www.noaps.org and click on past exhibits.  Also visit us on Instagram at Natoilandacrylicsociety.

Please visit our website at http://www.noaps.org to learn more about entering your work in the 2017 NOAPS Best of America Exhibit, hosted by the Castle Gallery, Fort Wayne, IN.

by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

 

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