Plein Air painting with NHS Students


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Newburyport Ten, Plein Air painters introduce Newburyport High School students to the joys of painting 'en plein aire'. A fabulous day was had by all!

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  • Out in the open air, spring
  • Out in the open air
  • Plein Air painting with NHS Students

    1. 1. Out in the Open Air In all seasons and in all weather
    2. 2. To keep their palettes and paintings dry on a damp day, painters will attach umbrellas to their easels. • The commonly used painting phrase, ‘Plein Air’, is French meaning “out in open air”. Another way to express this type of painting experience is: We are painting Nature surrounded by Nature
    3. 3. Betsy Lewis and Susan Stranc paint a waterfalls along a gravel back road in Jeffersonville, Vermont • Plein air painters prefer to be out doors rather than painting in their studios. They study and paint the light and its effects on objects out of doors.
    4. 4. Susan Luca painting along the Merrimack River, Newburyport. • Plein air painters try to capture on their canvas or paper an immediate ‘impression’ of what their eye sees at a particular time of day. Because the sun is always on the move, from east to west, the painter’s time is always limited.
    5. 5. Susan Spellman working at her French easel painting an authentic Vermont barn in Charlotte, Vermont. • Painting outside is a recently new practice for artists. Before the early 1800’s, artists were limited to working in their studios because they had to handcraft all their paints. They ground their pigments and then blended it with linseed oil on glass palettes. Colors were limited and paints were made in small quantities
    6. 6. Margery Jennings working at the Old Rowley Mill in the cool temperatures of early spring. • Then along came an American painter, John Rand. He loved to paint outdoors in and around London but he became frustrated with transporting his oil paints in pig bladders! The bladder had to be continuously punctured with a pin and often would burst upon squeezing out the paint.
    7. 7. Winter painting at Rye Harbor, New Hampshire. • His invention was the tin paint tube. It was created for convenience and portability. Rand’s invention enabled artists to leave their studios and travel to outdoor environments with the convenience of pre- packaged and portable oil paints.
    8. 8. S. Stranc bundled up for a day of winter painting at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, Massachusetts • Summing up the importance of John Rand’s portable paint tubes, here is a quote by Pierre Auguste Renoir: • “Without colors in tubes there would be no Cezanne, no Monet, no Pissarro, and no Impressionism. Some revolutions began with a squeeze of a trigger, some with just a squeeze”. •
    9. 9. Equipment and the Set Up The easel and palette. The style of easel and palette depends on what medium is used: pastels, watercolors or oils.
    10. 10. The late Bob Gertz paints his watercolor surrounded by spring blooming flowers and his equipment. Many watercolorists prefer to sit at an adjustable metal easel surrounded by their supplies conveniently laid out on the ground and within reach.
    11. 11. Dan Shaw (left) and Bud Smith enjoy the day painting along the rocky shore of Booth Bay Harbor, Maine in September When painting along the coast of Maine, there are always plenty of rocks to sit upon. One can bring along a collapsible stool if the need for comfort is important.
    12. 12. Joan Hancock paints at her French easel while the late Bob Gertz contemplates the progress of his watercolor painting. When out and about, look for benches. They are usually placed with a scenic vista in mind. While sitting to paint, the easel legs can be adjusted to any height.
    13. 13. John Singer Sargent, Paul Helleu Sketching with his Wife 1889 Being the famous artist that he was, John Singer Sargent brought along his painting supplies while he enjoyed a day of canoeing and fishing with friends. Pictured, Mr. Helleu improvised an easel by planting his fishing rod into the marsh grasses and leaning the canvas against it.
    14. 14. Winslow Homer, Artists Sketching in the White Mountains If you like to paint out in the open without a tree or bush for shade, or perhaps at the beach, bring along a big umbrella and folding stool. Sunscreen is important too! Note: in the foreground there’s a backpack for carrying art supplies to and from the field.
    15. 15. Bud Smith paints mammoth sunflowers in Charlotte, Vermont Some painters prefer to stand at their easels. They have more movability to step back and to look critically at their the canvas and assess their progress.
    16. 16. Dan Shaw bundled up while painting at his French easel along a rushing stream This set up has a roll of paper towel conveniently bungeed to the front of the French easel. The palette is contained in a re-sealable plastic tray and will be placed in the painter’s backpack at end of the painting session.
    17. 17. With sketchbook in hand, Margery Jennings begins to compose her painting at Great Bay Estuary, Newington, New Hampshire. A great plein air painting begins with a great composition. Be sure to bring along a sketchbook and pencil for drawing quick sketches. This step helps to determine the best compositional design before applying paint to the canvas.
    18. 18. Here’s a dapper fellow of the 1800’s wearing a straw boater’s hat painting in front of his tri-pod collapsible easel. He holds his palette and brushes in his left hand. In the foreground there is a woven picnic basket for carrying his painting supplies.
    19. 19. Pierre Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in his Garden at Argenteuil 1873 Here is the most famous Impressionist plein air painter, Claude Monet painted by his good friend, Renoir. Note the folded umbrella on the ground perhaps rain was forecasted or the hope of the sun returning. Monet is bundled up against the cold.
    20. 20. Mark Brown, a Hawaiian plein air painter, paints on a large scale. This painter is standing at two (studio) easels to accommodate his very large canvas. All other essential plein air equipment is on a grand scale too. His palette is a table. There are no small tubes of white just a big gallon can. He’ll be out there multiple days to finish his painting!
    21. 21. A sampling of easels Aluminum, French, drawing board. Beechwood box and fully equipped.
    22. 22. Four legged aluminum easel can be used to support a drawing board or canvas panels. It is a very useful easel used by watercolorists
    23. 23. This is a French easel used by many of the members of the Newburyport Ten Plein Air Painters. Using wing nuts, this easel easily collapses into a carrying box with a handle. It will hold numerous brushes and paint tubes as well as a palette.
    24. 24. The Beechwood paint box; simplicity at its best. The box will hold a palette, brushes and paint tubes. It can be set up on a picnic table or placed on your lap.
    25. 25. Sienna plein air pochade box and other equipment. Here is a set-up with all the bells and whistles of essential equipment There is a palette, palette knife, brushes, paint tubes, can of turpentine, paper towels. When the easel is closed, it fits in a backpack with the tri-pod attached to the outside. On the right: carrying cases for wet canvases.
    26. 26. Where and what to paint
    27. 27. Claude Monet, Spring Fruit Trees With your portable equipment, you can paint anywhere that is open to the public or on private lands with permission from owner.
    28. 28. John Singer Sargent, Stream and Rocks’ New England has many beautiful spots to paint throughout the seasons:. mountains, woods, rivers, orchards, farms, the coastline.
    29. 29. Claude Monet, “Waves at Manneporte” It has been told Monet had to cross several beaches, pass through a rock tunnel to reach this site. During his painting session he and his easel were nearly swept into the sea. If you have the opportunity to see the painting up close, you will see sand imbedded into the dried paints.
    30. 30. Edgar Degas, “Seashore” pastel Every good painter should experience painting in all types of weather: each varying in certain kinds of drama and color. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the weather. Perhaps bug spray and sunscreen will be necessary to tote along. Bottled water is essential.
    31. 31. John Singer Sargent, Cloud Study During each painting session, there will be changes in the quality of light and mood.
    32. 32. Claude Monet, Regatta at Sainte- Adresse 1867 On 25 June 1867, Monet reported that he was working on about twenty pictures: "Among the seascapes, I am doing the regattas of Le Havre with many figures on the beach and the outer harbor covered with small sails."  Before painting, always check to see which way the tide is turning.
    33. 33. Claude Monet, Garden at Sainte- Adresse, 1867 This painting captures the summer late afternoon light as well as a brisk wind. Note the long cast shadows and fluttering flags and smoke. Seated people in the landscape adds a quiet repose to the setting. Family members make excellent models.
    34. 34. John Singer Sargent, Reapers Resting in Wheat Fields 1885 Rural activities have always commanded the attention of many artists for inspirational subject matter. While painting barns, herds of grazing cows, or weathered farmers working the fields plein air painters have an opportunity to work along side these subjects in golden sunlight and fresh air.
    35. 35. Claude Monet, Haystacks in Winter A scene can be painted more than once as Monet and his Haystack series celebrates . Paint in the morning light, at high noon or in the evening, and paint in the spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Paint! Paint! and Paint!
    36. 36. Starting your Painting hints and helpers
    37. 37. Viewfinders Often when a painter is faced with a scene, there's simply so much to see that's appealing, that it is difficult to choose what to focus on. This is where a viewfinder is useful, as it helps the artist focus on particular parts of the scene, enabling them to decide what will make the best composition, both in terms of focus and format.
    38. 38. There are many options for viewfinders Here is a simple home made version made out of foam core using the proportions of an 11 x 14 canvas, with an acetate window with horizontal and vertical lines for reference You can make them out of dark colored mat board in two separate pieces so you can adjust for the size of your canvas or surface. Here is a sample of a viewfinder that is sold in art supply stores.
    39. 39. toning the canvas • The brightness of the white surface may cause a glare when painting outside • It can help unify a painting especially in the early stages before all the areas are covered • You may like some of the toned color peaking through • You want to set a mood • The white canvas is cold in color. That may distort some colors for you as they may appear warm next to the white until the canvas is fully covered • You may have more spontaneity with a toned canvas You may want to coat your canvas or board with a light tonal wash before painting. There is no right or wrong on this, some artists do tone their canvases and some don’t. Here are some reasons to tone the canvas first:
    40. 40. grisaille When creating the sketch on canvas, some artists use grisaille. Grisaille is a Painting technique by which an image is executed entirely in monochromatic shades of gray or brown and usually sets up the values and creates an illusion of space. Here is are a few examples by the artist Donald Jurney.
    41. 41. A simple Quick sketch to start A lot of artists just create a simple sketch and then get started on painting in the broad shapes. This is a quick sketch done on a toned canvas to lightly draw in the basic scene and composition. In the next following images, artist Susan Spellman’s painting evolves from quick sketch to finished plein air painting.
    42. 42. block in large dark and broad shapes It’s a good idea to start with broad shapes and add details later. In this image, Susan has painted larger shapes that she will add details to later in the process. She has used oil paint thinned with a little turpentine. A lot of artists start with a thinner layer of paint, one that has a mixture of turpentine and paint, to start an underpainting as their decisions are getting worked out, and then end with a thicker layer of oil paint on top of that.
    43. 43. sky and color notes Here she has added the sky to define the tree shapes and started to add more color notes throughout the painting. Notice that there are more warm colors in the foreground than in the background, and also darker values in the foreground as well.
    44. 44. more paint and “fat over lean” Here is the painting getting closer to being finished adding thicker paint overall and highlighting the light lavender flowers against the dark background. This is painting 'fat over lean'. 'Fat' oil paint is oil paint straight from the tube. Mixing it with an oil medium makes it even 'fatter' and increases the length of time it takes to dry completely. 'Lean' oil paint is oil paint mixed with more turpentine than oil, or oil paint mixed with a fast-drying oil. 'Lean' oil paint dries faster than 'fat' oil paint. Painting fat over lean ensures that upper layers of paint don't dry faster than lower ones because cracking can occur when the painting dries.
    45. 45. finishing the painting in one session? If your painting is not finished when it’s time to clean and pack up, return the next day or in a couple of days to the same spot at the same time. Or if you have a camera, take reference photos before and after painting. These will be helpful when finishing the painting in the studio or at home.
    46. 46. Remember to keep your composition simple not complex. Divide your canvas board into large shapes with a pencil or charged brush. Don’t get bogged down drawing details: there is not enough time to paint every leaf, blade of grass or flower buds. Once the composition has been drawn in, mix a local color for each area. If time permits, mix a range of values; a light, medium and a dark for each local color.
    47. 47. We hope you enjoy your time outside painting Nature surrounded by Nature or as we like to say in ‘plein air’. Marjet Lesk painting in Springtime