Flower Garden by Clyde Aspevig,
Clyde Aspevig is a landscape painter and seasoned plein air artist who prides himself on going out into his chosen environs with a feeling of belonging to nature rather than feeling apart from it or above it. I was reading a Q&A with him just recently, and his sensitivity and sensibility real struck a chord with me. That kind of relationship with the landscape isn't necessarily something that can be taught. But there were several instructive plein air painting tips that Clyde mentioned that I wanted to share with those of you who are as interested in painting en plein air as I am.
Like most plein air painters, the aspects of outdoor painting that Clyde enjoys the most is just being outside. Clyde approaches it like many of the plein air painters of the past and nineteenth-century explorers did: as naturalists, wanting to understand how plands grow, how geology shaped the land, how light affects the appearance of objects in the landscape.
|View from Cadillac Mountain – Otter Cove by Clyde Aspevig,
oil on canvas, 24 x 36.
When Clyde starts a painting he always makes sure to do a few key things.
1. Eeking out the overall feeling of light as it affects forms. Is it diffuse or directed? Warm or cool? Hazy or crystal clear?
2. Use broad brushstrokes to block in the overall color and values of the masses. But all the while not forgetting to step back and paint to imitate the visual movement of the scene.
3. Never get discouraged by producing something that is incomplete. Don't judge the work on your plein air easel as you would a studio work. The two are totally different in thrust and scope.
The last point is a good one that I personally need to remember. Studio and plein air art demand different things from you and they will look quite different as a result. Being comfortable with that and developing my own standards for both painting outside and painting in the studio is really helpful for me to manage my expectations and get the most out of each experience. Before starting a plein air painting session, it also helps me to brush up on my approach and techniques for outdoor painting, which is where Ian Roberts' Kit of the Month comes into play. Just check out all the great resources and see how well they will suit you and your practice. Enjoy!