I attended a plein air painting event today at the Parklands. This is a new park in the area which just opened last month. Already, it has become a popular destination for dog walkers, bicyclists, moms pushing strollers, just about anyone of any age. Created from a former golf course, it features three lakes/ponds, several water features, an outdoor musical instruments area, exercise equipment activities, a pavilion for special events, a splash park for kids, and many other features.
Although the day was promising to be exceedingly hot with temperatures in the 90s, I elected my first painting should be of a new bridge over a waterfall. Usually one only has about two hours to make a plein air painting before the sun and the shadows move too much.
I always start with a small black and white Notan sketch before I begin to paint. Then on a toned canvas, I lay in the darks. Since I was working in acrylic, it didn’t take long for the paint to dry. In fact, I had to use an acrylic retarder to slow down the drying.
I start with a one inch brush which will get 85% of the painting done. The bigger the brush, the less fussy I am. Sometimes I begin laying in the sky. In this case, I laid in some of the other darks and midtones and just kept working away. The bridge was critical as any mistakes could really make the painting ….well, not good.
The final touches are to add the lightest colors, the highlights, the sky holes in the trees, most with smaller brushes. I really like the peeps of red showing through the painting. I think it adds a little bit of liveliness.
One interesting thing happened to me while I was painting. I had a little butterfly who just kept hanging around. She walked along the top of the painting, then the sides, not even moving as I painted closer to her. If I shooed her away, she quickly came back. If my identification is correct, this was a Painted Lady butterfly. How appropriate.
After I finished this painting, I moved to the shade where I completed another one of a different scene. Fortunately, there was a nice breeze all day but it was still pretty dang hot.
To my surprise at final judging, I was awarded first prize. So it was worth the melting conditions. Maybe the Painted Lady brought me a little luck.