Plein Air Experiment, Part 1

Sunday, June 26th, I'll be painting in the Plein Air contest at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California. I decided I'd better get a little practice in, and have done a plein air painting a day for the last few days (hoping to get a full week in by Sunday).

I haven't done much plein air-- usually it's hard to find time where I can go outside interrupted for an hour or so. I've been lucky these last few days, beginning with Sunday. It was still a little foggy, but I went out anyway, dragging my not so stable box of pastels, a board with paper taped to it, and a chair.

Walking around for a few minutes, my basic impression was that we certainly need to spend some time cleaning up outside. Luckily, we have nice views, and I settled down in a chair to paint the view west of my house, which is a grove next door. It got wiped out in the 2007 fire (like ours), and has since been replanted. There's a small building there, so I chose that as the focal point and got started.

The session went relatively smoothly, and the result follows:
"Next Door" (9 x 12 chalk pastel on paper)
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The next day, the fog burned off a little earlier, so I thought I would try again. It took me longer to find a subject (I wasn't as jazzed up as I was the day before), so I headed further down the property and again turned west. An hour later, I was sore, irritated by bugs, and ready to stop when I heard a car pull up along our property line. It was a large SUV, complete with a u-haul, dogs who had to pee, and a screaming toddler (whose mother screamed back so loud I had to walk up and make sure that's all she was doing to the poor kid). They finally left, and I headed back down to clean up my mess. Somewhere along the way my pastel box had taken a dive into the weeds. I picked as many pieces of chalk out as I could, finished my work, and headed back up to the house. I was pleasantly surprised when I took a glance at the piece later (I was sure it would be as big a mess as my painting session had been).

"Neighbors" (9 x 12 chalk pastel on paper)
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And finally, I got to try an afternoon painting session while the little one slept in the shade. It wasn't planned, so I had to dig some oil pastels out of my art box in the shed and set up shop. This time I opted for a more comfortable chair (made a HUGE difference), a lightweight table, and a hat (sadly, my daughter's beach hat-- all I had in the car). I never thought I would be one of those painting ladies sitting outside in a floppy hat, but it was hot out and I knew I wouldn't survive without it. I had to stay close to the baby, and concentrated on the blooming cactus plants on our bank:
"Cactus" (4 x 6 oil pastel on paper)

So far, I'm feeling comfortable with the whole plein air style. Among all the visitors I've had come up to observe me (lizards, rabbits, hummingbirds, hawks, BUGS), there's one I haven't dealt with yet that I know will be a factor Sunday: people! I'll be sharing the next few days' works, along with the final experiment-- painting at the fair.

To see more of my works inspired by local scenery, click here:

Click here to view original works for sale:


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