I am happy to report that, even after my disappointing effort last week, I did paint this week. In fact, I painted twice. I stayed in my own back yard and I started with a tiny canvas, but I took my paints outside and I painted. Out there. En plein air. Eventually, I would like to try a sweeping landscape, with some real sky and all, but I am trying to proceed at the speed of me and this feels about right. I need to get used to painting outside. I need to figure out which colors are indispensable. I need to figure out how long they will stay wet. I need to figure out how much to include in the background and how to make it stay in the background.
I think I made some progress with this tiny painting. I wanted to paint the little purple cabbage in my husband’s garden, but I remembered last week’s problem with the background, so I started with that. What’s behind this small garden is my neighbor’s garage and a chain-link fence. I tried to put them in lightly, without too much detail. It’s still not perfect, but it’s certainly an improvement over the “background” I painted last week. I love the little cabbage and the friendly plants next to it.
I was encouraged by this tiny effort – it’s only 2 1/2” by 3 1/2” – so I tried something a bit bigger the next time I took my paints into the back yard. I obviously bit off more than I could chew, but there are a lot of things about my 8” x 10” painting that I like. I like all the pots. I like the eggplant blossoms and I like the strawberry and I like the limes. I hate the window and the shadow of its awning.
I just couldn’t figure out what colors I was seeing in those window frames. They were in shadow. I knew what color they really were, which was white. Of course they don’t look white when they’re in shadow, but my left brain just wouldn’t let it go. Sometimes I can’t believe how tenacious my left brain can be. It always wants me to paint what it knows is there, instead of what I see.
I will keep trying. Every attempt teaches me something. I put my chair down in a big shady spot when I started this painting. I looked up to see where the sun was and it was behind a huge tree. It looked as if it would stay behind that tree for hours. I guess it did, but not enough hours. Once that sun hit my Sta-Wet palette, my paint did not stay wet. There were other things I might have done to this painting, but I couldn’t keep going. My paints were drying up and there was nothing I could do, with the supplies I had brought outside, to stop it.
I guess that means the sun finished this painting. Next week, I hope to make better plans and finish my own painting.