Maggie Price Workshop Diary: Painting (Almost) Every Day

Before setting out on this trip spanning two months and four workshops, I thought about what it might be like to paint outdoors from life nearly every day for such a long period of time. I’ve noticed before that whenever I can schedule other parts of my life to allow a number of days in a row to paint—whether in the studio or out, whether from life or from photographs—it has a positive distant villa.jpgimpact on my work. But while I enjoy plein air painting and get outdoors at every opportunity, I’ve never had such a long stretch of strictly outdoor painting. It has had a profound effect; I find I’m quicker to make decisions about composition, and that I come closer to finishing each study in the time I allow. (As a general rule, on a sunny day, I try not to work more than an hour to an hour and a half on each piece, as the light changes and the shadows move in that amount of time.)

Drawing buildings has also gotten a little faster, though it’s still not easy. I want to get the elements of perspective and angles right, but if I spend too much time fiddling with that, then the pattern of light and shadow that originally caught my attention may be gone. So I’m pleased that I’m getting a little quicker with architectural subjects.

It’s also interesting to paint the same thing or similar things more than once. After completing the painting Distant Villa (above), the light on the hillside just to the left of that composition changed and the village of Cortona began to be lit by the afternoon sun. I only had about 45 minutes left to work, so I turned my easel just a little and quickly painted Cortona View (below). What I learned about painting the trees in the first piece was useful in the second, and in the end I liked the second, quicker, study best.

cortona view.jpgIn both the Scotland workshop and the one in Italy, we averaged 7-8 days of outdoor work. Now we are in Spain, and the first workshop group will arrive tomorrow. That 8-day workshop will be followed by another of the same length. It will be interesting to see what my plein air work is like by the end of the trip, and it will also be interesting to see how my studio work is affected when I finally get home to paint indoors over the winter. Next: painting the white villages of the Genal Valley in the Andalucian mountains of Spain.

–Maggie Price

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