Saturday, 18 December 2010

from life or photo?

This week Ive done very little painting but thought Id post this blog whilst waiting for my van to defrost before venturing out in snow..yippee I love the snow :-) !!

The reason for the title of this post is probably quite obvious. I dont think there are rights or wrongs or goods or bads about how and where people choose to paint. Many of us love painting outside whilst others hate it and cant see the point of standing out in the cold. For my part its just my preference to be outside and to respond as quick as possible to what I see. Yesterday was a prime example. I have a great little 6 x 8 pochade box which was a gift from my friend Mr Rafferty and I carry it everywhere in my truck hoping I might snatch abit of time here and there to paint. Yesterday was so frustrating as the snow started and I was surrounded by so many potential paintings, but too busy to stop.. At the very end of the day nearing home the view of the Rother stopped me in my tracks and I thought even though there was only 15 to 20 minutes light left I would try and get something down. 6x8s are so small so keeping it simple you can do a quick sketch in not much time. Worst of all as quick as I tried to paint I was losing the light and by the last few minutes I really couldnt see what colours I was mixing. I really enjoy the excitement off it , but you never know what youve got until you get back. Ive posted my effort below which took no more than 20 minutes. The colours are perhaps a bit lairy and it is only a sketch, but my question is...would I ever paint anything like it in a studio ? .. I think not. Ive also posted a photograph of the general scene before I started. Im sure if Id only used the photo of the scene for reference |I would have ended up with a laboured copy..who knows..maybe I should give it a go and find out. Anyway thats enough waffling Im going painting.
Photo of The Rother at sun set before I started
My quick oil sketch 6 x 8


  1. It's wonderful! Interesting perspective on studio vs. plein air.

  2. Impressive effort Karl. I really like it, full of energy from the moment that would indeed be difficult if not impossible to emulate in the studio. I find working in the studio is almost a different mental/emotional discipline as I'm far more conscious of each action on the canvas. It can feel more laboured/contrived but I try to see it as a challenge to translate (as opposed to replicate) what I've done outside. I like to use the plein air piece as the primary source of reference with a few photos to back things up on the details. I use photos much less than I used to for reference but they're still useful in some respects. The studio pieces that work tend to be the ones that have been thought through clearly before I start and I haven't got bogged down at the easel, wrestling with things that don't seem right as I go along. I too prefer outdoor painting, without any doubt, but I recognise that it's not always practical and it's an ongoing quest to develop a studio approach that compliments the plein air stuff. My ultimate goal is to try and merge them so that they don't end up feeling like different disciplines but I'm a long way off that yet! I'd say it's worth persisting with some studio work to mix things up a bit and provide a different creative challenge. It opens up the potential for doing bigger pieces too.

  3. Great Study Karl,

    like Dave, notes in his comment, I don't think you could replicate this in the warm studio. I work between the studio and outdoors and find that if I paint inside from photos and colour notes etc it works better if you set a time limit on the painting,not as good as outdoors but it's a compromise.