Sunday Plein Aire, Attempt #4

Initial Picture of the House

Initial Picture

I went plein aire painting Sunday. I decided to paint a friend’s house in Old Town Alexandria. The sky was clear and the weather was cool – to- cold with quite a breeze at times. It was a gorgeous day to be outside.

The advantage to painting my friend’s house is that it’s one block off of the tourist area. There was foot traffic and quite a bit of road traffic but I was able to get quite a bit accomplished.

I do need to say that this is only my 4th plein aire painting, I learn a bit more each time I go out.

Most of my friends who paint have said painting outside is very similar to painting the figure.  You do initial sketch, very quickly get in your darks (very important since the light is constantly changing), do initial color lay down and then get to work.

House Sketch

House Sketch

I paid attention to the distance between the windows, where the shutters were as well as the dormers. I also lay in the first indication of the shadows on the roof. The color is raw umber thinned with gamsol. I used an 8×10″ oil primed linen canvas Mine were purchased from Raymar they are double oil primed linen).

I learned for my florist shop that painting a building full on didn’t help to make the painting interesting. That I should approach it from an angle. So I selected a spot about 30 degrees off from center. The view allowed me to include a pretty magnolia tree on the right side of the building. I included a small strip of the grey building next door. Frankly I am not certain that was wise but it helped me gauge what went were so in it stayed.

Initial Color Lay In

Initial Color Lay In

I used a thinned burnt sienna with some raw umber mixed in for the building, I darken the shadows with more raw umber, laid in the brick wall with burnt sienna and raw umber. The magnolia tree is all raw umber and the grey building to the left was created by mixing raw umber with ultramarine blue and white. The sky is a thinned cerulean blue.

It always amazes how bright a color will seem (especially on a white panel) when you first lay it down and then how quickly it quiets down. Seeming this has made me a little less nervous about color with the human figure.


House Painting About 60% Complete

So, the windows were blocked in with a dark grey using raw umber and ultramarine blue. Same for the black of the shutters. I had no idea how to translate the color of the roof. The shadows were a really rich dark and the roof was black to start with but with the intense sunlight on it it seems a brownish/greenish black. I left it as is.

My friend lives across the street from a large business building. When I first started painting I could not see the reflections of the building, I could later once the light changed. I found it interesting that I could see the reflections of the building in the photos I took with my camera but not with my eyes.

Finished House Painting

Finished House Painting

I am not certain if including this building in the reflections was wise, but it was there and since it’s part of their daily view I felt it helped keep the painting real (in context to the site). Ok, that sounded a tad stuffy but hopefully you understand what I mean.

Over all I think I did ok. I even snuck her cat into the picture which wasn’t accurate but I figured she’d love it. It’s pretty small so you wouldn’t see the cat unless you were looking for him.


8 responses to “Sunday Plein Aire, Attempt #4

  1. Good for you – painting plein air is not easy.

    One of the things I do when working plein air is make a record in my sketchbook of where the main tones are. It’s what keeps me on track as I progress and the light changes – knowing where the shadows are supposed to be in my work as opposed to what’s in front of me!

    A small tonal sketch is also good for deciding whether to change the crop in terms of initial thoughts about those all important four lines

  2. You’re really progressing, Evil Twin. I’m proud of you.

  3. Hi Katherine,
    Thank you for the encouragement. The tonal sketch is a great idea. I will try that next time out.
    I do love the fact that the “model” doesn’t move although the shadows do.
    You’ve had some phenomenal posts at your blog lately, great reads one and all; especially the post on working in a series and Monet.


  4. Hi Sis,
    Thanks and glad you like it. I put a better pic up. I will try to retake one in the norther light for a better sense of the colors (last one way too dark this one slightly too bright).

  5. Nice one Cindy. I find plein air painting very difficult but I enjoy being outside. I tend to stay in out of the way places to paint. You’re brave to paint in the city, even if it’s not the real Virginia :).

  6. Hi Bill
    Now wait a second, My friend lives in one of the oldest historic districs in the US. I hang out in old town all the time (there are even costumed folks running around closer to the river) don’t have that in Portland eh?

    How have your adventures with the studio reno

    Thank you for the kind comments on the plein aire btw!

  7. I hope you know I was making a feeble attempt at humor based on the assertions of a few political operatives.

    Actually we do have people running around in Portland in costumes but they’re not generally historic in nature.

    Studio reno is complete and I’m happy to be painting again. I enjoy your work and I really do think you’re quite brave to attempt plein aire in public view, costume or not.

  8. HEY!! I wasn’t wearing a costume!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s