Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How to Make a Paint Out Successful

Just returned from a glorious week of nonstop painting in Mendocino.  This was my second year to participate in MOPO (Mendocino Open Paint Out). A few people have asked why I do paint outs.   For me, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. It is adventure every time I pack my trunk full of paint supplies and set out.

A typical paint out begins weeks ahead. Applications are do months in advance.  Deciding on frame sizes and canvases, ordering supplies online, canceling classes I teach and working out housing are all part of the preparation.

I always plan to arrive two days early so that I have one full day to scout out painting locations.  Then I make a plan.  My paintings are large for plein air so the small windows of changing light time means I arrange to return to the same location at least twice. After running around frantically the first day taking a hundred pictures, I allow myself some relaxed time to sort them out and crop on my phone to sizes of canvases and decide on a strategy.

My strategy is usually divided up the day into three painting locations.   A morning painting, an afternoon and an evening. In Mendocino I only had one evening painting.  That beautiful glowing light had such a short window that it took extra visits to finish.

                                "Main Street" oil 16" x 20"

Every time I do a paint out I come away with memories of very special moments. One of my favorites from this last visit was after finishing up my Russian Gulch bridge was meeting a couple of wayward travelers. We sat in the parking lot watching the amazing sunset and swapping stories.  One of the travelers had driven up in a classic old red and white VW van.  He was on a journey traveling with his great great niece retracing his wild 1960s days.  While the other traveler, was on a abalone mission, traveling up the coast from Santa Barbara.

                                                                                           "Tranquility" oil 15" x 30"


There are also so many special moments, painting plein air offers.  There are those magical moments when light shifts and more beauty is revealed. Then there is that whole immersion experience where while painting you are experiencing most of your senses and trying to infuse them into the feeling of the painting. Even with all the wind, bugs on my canvas, challenging weather conditions,  painting plein air is amazing and well worth it.

    "Weller House Tower" oil 15" x 30"

                                "Safe Harbor" oil 24" x 24"

"Swan Song"  oil 8" x 10"                                       

Helpful Hint- When taking pictures always take multiple angles from multiple sides. Both my 
"Main Street" painting and the above Packard were unexpected compositions decided on from my      
  photo references later. When first discovering them, I thought I knew which angles and sides I wanted, but since I always make myself shoot extra images on all sides I later discovered stronger                   compositions from other angles.

Helpful Hints- Always give yourself plenty of time from framing and cleaning up edges on the day the paintings are due. I am always surprised at how much time this takes and will usually make a point of not painting on location the last day.