I'm off this Friday for a new adventure. I'm taking my sister, my 85 year old mother and Henry(AKA Studio Dog), on a boat tour in Cedar Key with Captain Doug. HERE I have wanted to do this tour for a long time and decided, Why Not? I plan to take many photographs along the route which I will use to make paintings later in my studio. I have long loved the wild places in the South and spend much time at rivers and lakes, photographing and doing small studies of scenes for later use. I will be sure to post about this adventure after the event and share some of the photos with you. If you are traveling in the area, be sure to take the boat tour.
Perhaps you will enjoy an explanation of my process in this. I use photos a lot in the studio for larger paintings. I feel that my best paintings are done in the studio where I can take the time to craft them carefully, stopping along the way in my process for drying periods and thinking periods between sessions.
I do smaller paintings on location to use as studies for possible compositions later in studio. These pochades (field studies) are road maps if you will, for larger works done more carefully in studio. These studies are almost always done alla prima, which means all at once, wet on wet with no drying period. They are usually quite simple in composition dealing with basic values and color. They give me the information I need to translate the scene into a larger work later. Alla prima is also done in the studio with the same approach in mind to use these small paintings as studies for larger works or to experiment with painting techniques and thematic subjects. Contrary to popular misconceptions, alla prima and plein air are not interchangeable. Alla prima means painting from start to finish in one session. Plein Air means painting out in the open air, or outside rather than in a studio.
Plein air painting may be done in multiple sessions with drying periods in between, though most painters do smaller works alla prima on location.
Sometimes, I will start larger paintings on location, doing the basic block in, color, shadows and composition. I then take these paintings back to the studio, where I take my time to complete them. All of these methods of painting produce interesting work.
As you consider paintings for your collection, you will need to think about which method is most pleasing to you. Studio work is more refined than alla prima plein air work. Alla prima work tends to be more simplistic in composition and design and looser in brushwork. It has a more abstract feel to it than studio work though they may both represent the same subject.
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