Friday, January 9, 2009

Plein air painting and experiments

Here you can see an experimental piece of Bob from a photo taken by a friend as we passed through Portland on our return train trip across Canada and down the West Coast after our bicycle tour. I had never painted on a gesso surface so this is totally an experiment inspired by Myrna Wacknov’s blog. I applied gesso over a failed watercolor. I loved the way the gesso resisted the watercolor and the fact that I could wipe away the watercolor if I wanted. I realized that I should not have used an eraser on the gesso as that left a residue and I had a real tough time in those spots getting the paint to adhere. The next time I will use a small paintbrush to draw the image. Another time I would take more care creating a nice texture in the gesso. This one pretty much has horizontal brush strokes. As always, I have a hard time getting the image I upload to the blog to match the original piece in terms of light and color. People tell me they recognize Bob.

Yesterday morning I joined a half dozen people from the Santa Clara WatercoloSociety to paint plein air at Las Palma Park in Sunnyvale, CA। This small park has tennis courts, a dog park, and two play areas for children. The day was cool, damp, and overcast much of the time we were there. Though possible rain was forecast, we had none. I decided to paint the sculptures and palms. I understand that in the summer, water flows from the three blue "pipes" and the decorative enclosure has a small pond, but I guess that goes away for the winter. We live in a very multicultural area, so I listened to people chat in more than one language, watched moms walking babies and an older man doing tai chi, to the sounds of happy dogs, one unhappy baby, and the kathunk of tennis balls on the courts. When finished, we enjoyed our picnic lunch together and I headed for home to warm up. I can see that the colors, were influenced by the grey atmosphere.


Sheila said...

I love how you share your experiments and trials and tribulations with your art. Does your WC society allow strangers (okay me) to watch you folks paint just because they are curious and have never done plein air?

Mary Paquet said...

Hi, Sheila. The plein air sessions are very casual and I'm sure you could meet up with us and see what we do. You can e-mail the organizers at .

Usually we just meet at a predetermined site and spread out and paint or sketch. Some people spend all their time sketching as a matter of fact. Sometimes we do a sketch and hike. I just started doing the sessions a few months ago. Seems like we have maybe 6 to 10 people max, especially in these colder months. So far I've painted at Baylands Park in Palo Alto, Jose Higuera Park in Fremont, Montalvo Villa in Saratoga, and Las Palmas Park in Sunnyvale. It's a fun way to meet people with similar interests and get out to see different parts of the bay area.

Sheila said...

Thanks Mary! I'll email and say I was admiring an artist's work when I learned about scvws.

Nancy said...

Mary, I just started painting plein air with some artists from our watercolor club. What an experience! I'm still not very good at figuring out just what to paint, but hopefully, I'll be learning! Thanks for sharing your paintings.

Annelein said...

Hi Mary,
Welcome to the art blogging world! Thanks for checking in with my blog on a regular basis. Hope your trip was good and thanks for the comment about my website link. It's since been fixed and I have had connections through that..makes me wonder how many people are mad at me for not replying! Happy blogging! Annelein

Mary Paquet said...

Nancy, plein air is quite an experience. I'm not certain that I can get a real successful painting on location, but they could be the sketches for one done in my studio. I really enjoy painting outside. Tomorrow I will post a couple that I thought were more successful than this one. Thanks for checking in.