Jean Perry: Staging a Landscape

I treat the process of plein air painting as if I were producing a stage play. As the director, I can transform any landscape element into a star by refining it with more detail. Likewise, I can turn other areas into a supporting cast by limiting or removing detail in those sections.


September Song (oil, 16 x 20)

Once I settle on my composition, I use a large brush–at least a No. 6–to apply a thin, transparent wash over the entire canvas. If the landscape has lots of green, I use warm colors for this, such as burnt sienna, yellow ochre or transparent red oxide. But if the landscape is predominantly warm, I often use a mixture of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue to create a cool, lavender wash. If I want to have the most brilliant colors possible, I may leave the canvas white.

I want the viewer to be drawn to my center of interest first, so I place my strongest contrasts there.

Lost and found edges are critical to the illusion of detail. You’ll find that as you soften some edges, the harder edges are automatically accentuated.

Jean Perry took her first art class at age five at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Her art studies continued through college at the University of Colorado, then proceeded sporadically as she raised four children. She began painting en plein air about 15 years ago. She?s a member of the Plein Air Painters of America and a signature member of the Oil Painters of America and the Western Academy of Women Artists. Perry currently maintains a winter studio in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and a summer studio in Tucson, Arizona.

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