Sunday, August 22, 2010

Urban plein air tips

The trio of Towns Road paintings is now finished, with the watertower below being the last. For now. I also added another image to my Unseen series, plein airs done at 'haunted' locations, the painting of Grenadier Pond being the third in that group. Soldiers drowned after breaking through the ice on Grenadier Pond during the War of 1812, and are still reportedly haunting the place.

Towns Road: Watertower, 8"x10", oil on panel SOLD

Unseen: Grenadier Pond, 10"x10", oil on panel

Skatepark, 8"x10", oil on panel

The following are a few urban plein tips I've sussed during my years 'on the streets':

* Solve drawing issues first. Complex urban scenes can be like a puzzle, and proportion and perspective are key to making it all fit.

* Be prepared for disruptions. A truck will park in front of you, and the driver will refuse to budge. And if those parked cars are important to your concept/composition, paint them in first. Because odds are very good they'll drive away before you finish.

* Be aware of the path of the sun. If you set up at 9:00 am facing east to paint a building, by 10:15 will the sun be above the roofline and blazing into your eyes?

* Some may claim that music on headphones enhances the experience of painting, but I don't recommend it, especially for urban work. I've been approached by dogs, friendly and otherwise, and people, friendly and not, and believe that awareness = safety. Further, the sounds of the city provide ample enhancement to the plein air experience.

* There are many things that attract the eye when choosing an urban subject. If you really want to capture that old Ford in the parking lot, or the faded Union Menswear sign, remember that context is part of what drew you to the scene. Portraying the car with little of the surrounding information is leaving a good part of the story out of the picture. Keep the image contemporary by recording the context and avoid nostalgia. That's all for now.

1 comment:

  1. Found the location of the water tower
    I grew up in this area but couldn't figure out for the life of me what spot the painting was made. Thanks Google