Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting Outside to Paint

I've made it no secret that I'm not keen on observational drawing and painting--and as a result, not particularly good at it either.  I admire the artists who do it, and get lots of inspiration from them. Even though I much prefer drawing what's in my head, I also know that it's good practice to match values and paint from life, healthy to get out of the studio once in awhile, and a pretty relaxing good time as well.

Clay Brooks of the Denver Illustration Studio sets up some of the plein-air expeditions https: //  This one, at the rail yard, was a great opportunity. Painting outside is more fun with a group, and I learn something every time.

  We headed out around 8:30 am in order to try to beat the heat.

This was our chosen location.

While we were painting, a photographer came by to visit.

David worked with oils.

Clay worked with watercolor...

...and sketched this!

Didn't see David's finished work, but both of their paintings were incredible!

Trains were a new experience for me, as up to this point I'd never painted one! Relocation of the bright orange engines seemed imminent though, so I chose some distant, (un-hitched) boxcars for my subject and

drew a quick sketch, trying to organize the mass of clutter in my chosen view.

I'd toned my paper the night before, which was a mistake; it proved too dark for the bright, hot day. Stubborn, I forged ahead, laying in values with sepia ink,

then pulled out the watercolors.

I deleted the Denver skyline above the bridge, and shifted other stuff. Man did I get lost--I was making the bright Colorado scene look gritty and dirty, more like foggy London Town.

I look to be painting machinery instead of scenery, but my boxcars were beyond this yellow fellow.

By this point, it was nearly noon and getting hot, so I stopped slopping about and headed home. I like some parts of this study. It gave me an idea for an in-studio, in-brain concept, and I'll post that later if it develops.

For now though, thanks for the visit!


  1. I take comfort that even when you draw from life, you bring your own personality to the landscape. The toned paper brought out the foggy London of your imagination. Looking forward to the in-brain work that comes from this.

  2. Thanks, Joy--I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Your support means very much to me!


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