Monday, June 11, 2012

Plein Air Watercolor Painting and Canine Rescue.


This weekend, I conducted a plein air painting workshop at Donner Lake up in the high Sierra mountains of Northern California. Both Saturday and Sunday, I demonstrated how to manage outdoor painting. We were out on the Yuba River near Donner Lake where much of the gold was discovered (and  still is) during the great California Gold Rush. The top view was painted by me was at a camp site on the river's edge . . . beautiful granite outcroppings, pines, and snow melt. Notice the action in the water . . . blue sky, tree and brush reflections, and yellow ochre of the shallow river bottom. Water is not all blue! The trick to painting a decent piece, whether in the studio or outside, is to SQUINT HARD to impair your ability to see much detail and subtle value shifts. One wants the extreme lightest and darkest values to play off of each other with only one or two mid range values to bridge the gap . . .  works every time! It also helps to have a modicum of drawing skill. One needs not to draw a lot of fine detail but just enough to lay down the foundation upon which to paint. The two eyes on either side of our nose must learn to see the nuances of the scene so that it can be abstracted (simplified). This takes a lot of practice and especially when painting en plein air with all of its attendant distractions . . . heat, cold, wind, insects, gawkers, lugging painting equipment, etc. The bottom scene was painted on Saturday. Distractions that day? . . .  well, lets see . . . as I was painting that queer triangular piece of granite structure that had broken away from the main mass, I heard a splash and scream. A couple walking their 14 year old dog along the steep granite by river's edge had the misfortune of seeing their canine slip into the fast moving stream. The large dog had no energy to fight the current and was heading down river to a nearby waterfall! The pooche's male owner proceeded to reach for him and also slipped into the water! By this time, I ran to assist and slipped hard onto the granite. . . ouch! By this time, the man had grabbed the squirming, panicked stricken dog and was trying to wrestle it onto dry land. By then, I had caught my breath and proceeded to reached out and grabbed one of the dog's legs. Both owner and I manage to get the pet safely out of the water. The couple thanked me, and I headed back to my easel to finish my watercolor. I really love painting in the great outdoors, but I also really love painting in my boring studio! Do any of you have an interesting plein air experience? I would love to publish it.

14 comments:

Meera Rao said...

Fear I am sounding like a broken record (remember them?) -- love the colors and the play of light! Great story too! Other than fighting wind against paper and couple of times raindrops i don't have a story --may be because I have not painted outdoors- only sketched :)

And, the sepia portrait in the previous post is wonderful!

Studio at the Farm said...

I do love that painting of the rocks - colors in the shadows are great. And good for you for being a hero!!

Steven said...

Thrilling! Kudos for helping and thank goodness all are safe!

Barbara Muir said...

I am proud of you, and also have to say plein air is not for me. I once painted with my friend Flora Doehler under a protected roofed in area,in a park like area and a high gale came up, the temperature plummeted. Dirt and sand from near by flew into all of my (acrylic) colours which were in a plastic egg carton. We were freezing, dirty, numb and the resulting work was banal and dull. I had to throw out all of the paint.

You, on the other hand, do it all --
paint, save man and beast. I am, as always, impressed.

Ciao,

Barbara

David Lobenberg said...

Hi Meera. I remember records quite well. Pretty soon, we will probably be remembering CDs! Painting in the great outdoors is great fun and very tiring!

David Lobenberg said...

Howdy Studio at the Farm. Yes, I love to use color in dark areas to give them life. As long as you can maintain your value relationships and color harmony, you can be playful with color.

David Lobenberg said...

Yes, thank goodness all are safe. It can be amazing how shit can happen!

David Lobenberg said...

Barbara, yep, one fights both the elements and the painting. I'm ecstatic that both EFFORTS came out semi decent! Plein air painting is indeed a big ass effort for me.

Arti said...

It lovely,indeed.Those rocks look beautiful.Painting outdoors must be fun...I have not done one so far :)

Jan Blawat said...

I was attending a workshop once at Silver Lake. There were a dozen older women, a couple of younger ones, and one young fellow. Most of us just had basic equipment, we set up on the shady side of a small bay. The young man went around to the sunny side. He had an elaborate outfit with a nice chair with storage under it, it had an umbrella attached to it. Near the end of the afternoon the young man left his chair for some reason. A breeze came up, caught the umbrella, and took the entire outfit into the lake. The ladies on the other side of the lake all saw this and called to the fellow, pointing at the problem. He went running, stripping off his clothes to retrieve his stuff. Before he even hit the water all the ladies were applauding. Art ladies appreciate a fine physique, you know.

David Lobenberg said...

Hey. Jan! How are you doing? Funny story!! Thanks!! Missed you and the chickens this year.

Paz said...

I left a comment here but it seems to have disappeared, so here I am again. :)

I'm glad all ended well and you have some nice paintings from that day.

Have a good week.

If the first comment appears, please delete this one. Thanks!

David Lobenberg said...

Thank you my blog friend, Paz, in the big apple!

David Lobenberg said...

Thank you my blog friend, Paz, in the big apple!