It’s a Start

I had forgotten how much I hate admitting that I don’t know everything. I don’t know how to paint a landscape en plein air. I want to learn. If I’m going to learn, I have to be able to admit that, right now, I don’t know how to do it. I did try it this week. I took my paints into my back yard and I sat down in the shade and I tried to paint what I could see from my chair.

I could see the bird feeder and I could see the plants around the bird feeder. I sketched a bit and then I painted. There are so many problems with this painting that I didn’t realize until I was lying in bed that night, trying to get to sleep, that I had not even turned the canvas to a landscape orientation. I painted a landscape in portrait orientation.

The Bird Feeder

The Bird Feeder

Well, at least that’s one problem I can easily fix the next time I paint. The others may not be so easily fixed, but I can see them and that means I can work on them. Obviously, the background is impossible. I just didn’t want to think about it until it was way too late to do anything about it. I like painting what I see in front of me, but what was behind the little garden was the big wall of a house. It was not attractive. I didn’t want to paint it, so I just scumbled in a ridiculous mess.

Okay, that didn’t work. It’s never going to work. I need to try something else. See? I’m learning.

I think the hardest thing for me is realizing that I’m given a certain amount of canvas (in this case, 8” x 10”) and I have to account for all of it. I can’t just do the fun part that jumps out at me the minute I sit down. I have to think, and think fast, about what I’m going to do with the whole space. I can’t just fill it in after I paint the obvious stuff.

I need to plan and I didn’t do that this week. I was barely able to make myself carry the paints outside. Even after I carried them out there, I thought about giving up and bringing them back inside. It was a very near thing, but I painted. I am glad that I painted.

Next time, I’m going to try to remember to squint.

6 thoughts on “It’s a Start

  1. Deb Breton

    I applaud you and your work, you’re doing it! We are our own worst critics, aren’t we? Painting in plein air is a challenge, I hope to get better at it. Bottom line is that it is a lot of fun and a great way to escape. Paint on!

    1. releaf1954 Post author

      Thank you, Deb. We sure are our own worst critics. I want it to be good and I want it now. That’s pretty crazy when I’m just starting to learn. I’m still figuring out how much I don’t know. I know there will always be more to learn, but I’m determined to keep painting. Even when I can see all the imperfections, I still have fun when I just sit myself down and try. Let’s both paint on!

  2. sarahcotchaleovitch

    I am proud of you for justing diving right in – that’s the best way to start. Each time you do it, it will get easier. And you’re being really hard on yourself (although I like the word “stumbled”). I wish I could have taken you with me to Washington – Mount Rainier was amazing. I would have been cool to see you paint there. That should be your goal for when you get this style down. 🙂

    1. releaf1954 Post author

      One reason I’m trying to make myself paint now is so that I will have some skill when Pat and I take our trip out West in the Fall. I don’t want to lose my painting nerve and leave my paints at home. I want to at least try to paint some of that beautiful scenery.


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