a plein air sort of morning

Yesterday morning I hit the floor about 0530 and packed my gear and headed over to a friend’s house and picked her up and we drove to a spot on her farm where this lovely pond lies in the middle of a grassy meadow surrounded by a creek and bunches of different types of trees to the south and a lush, soon to be harvested wheat field that stands about 3 feet tall to the north.  The colors are brilliant.  The pond is growing some algae at this time of year; exposed too bright sunlight and not a lot of rain to replenish the spring fed water supply.
We were sort of lazy plein air painters, not hiking in a mile or two or more to a wonderful spot.  We were able to drive to it; quickly set up and begin the process.  It was nice and cool early on with a breeze, but as the time got be be mid morning, it was getting hot.  Decided to pack it up about 11, but not before witnessing some wonderful sites such as a doe and two fawn meandering through the meadow, a bunch of wild turkeys foraging along the creek, wild geese eating in the pasture and taking off and flying west in formation, an osprey swooping down to the pond and catching a fish and then doubling back overhead like he was doing a fly-by, showing off his catch and heading to his nest.  Great way to spend a few hours.  The paintings on today’s blog were a result of those 5ish hours of work.  I painted the vertical piece on a sheet of Art Spectrum black paper and the horizontal one on a rust coloured sheet.  Even though they are toned, I soften the black one particularly with some Sennelier #463 for shadows.  It gives a little more life to a summer scene.  These are great papers to work with and hold pastel quite well.
So about the paintings…rather about the frames…The paintings are just loosely taped on the back of the frames, but what I wanted to show are the plein air frames that I got from Jerry’s Artarama.  (the fingers holding the frames are optional!  Not really.  I wanted to show as much of the frame as possible, so excuse the fingers :-)!!!) The paintings are 9×12 and that is the opening size with a tiny bit more room in the plein air frame.  So these paintings were done on Art Spectrum coated paper where there is about a half an inch of uncoated paper around the periphery of the sheet.  I painted the vertical piece on a sheet of Art Spectrum black paper and the horizontal one on a rust coloured sheet. Even though they are toned, I soften the black one particularly with some Sennelier #463 for shadows. It gives a little more life to a summer scene. These are great papers to work with and hold pastel quite well  About a 1/2 inch will need to be trimmed if I decide to put these paintings in the plein air frame.  What I wanted to illustrate is a general idea of how they look in the two finishes of frames that I got.  If these were to be placed in the plein air frame, a spacer would be put behind the glass and then the painting, back board and finished.  These frames come with a hanging wire and hardware and seem to be good quality.  I like the simplicity of the frame and the fact that they didn’t break the bank to buy them.  Watch for sales…good discounts 🙂
Another day we will go perhaps to the foothills of the Blues and paint and maybe to Bennington Lake area.  On Saturday I met some folks who have a home in a vineyard toward Mill Creek.  The view from their porch is incredible – overlooking a few wineries below them and to the west; to the east Mill Creek canyon; to the east and south the Blue Mountains in the background and across Mill Creek the foothills of Blues that are fields of soon to be harvested wheat and peas and the foreground of 5year old grape vines.  The colors are wonderful…greens, golds, blues, reds.  When you turn onto the lane that goes to their home you pass a tasting room for another vineyard…but the most spectacular thing is once you leave Mill Creek Road  you turn onto this lane that is solidly lined on both sides with what appears to be 15 feet of lavender planted so that you get the sense of meandering up this lane of a solid wave of purple.  It’s another painting!
So with a great weekend of painting and photographing, it’s the beginning of a new week…A couple of new pieces will be going to Sandpoint for the POAC water show and pick up some pieces from the Art Walk I.
Always be looking for something to paint; carry that camera with you so  you have that reference photo!!
Happy painting!!

About bonnie griffith

I am a landscape artist who works in pastels, oils and acrylics. My work focuses on representational studies of the western US. I am basically self taught with lots of workshops and studies with several landscape artists such as Bruce Haughey and Clark Elster. I live in southwestern Idaho, am a native Montanan with a strong connection to the land. I spend as much time as I can in MT painting as well other parts of the northwest. I appreciate getting out in the field and working plein air because there is nothing like completing a painting in the true light of day and visually not being compromised by the use of a photo. In my work, my goal is to produce a piece of work that draws the viewer into the painting and challenges them to explore the scene; get a sense of the time of day, the temperature, the light or lack of. If I have gotten that viewer to step out of their reality and into that painting and enjoy it, then my work was accomplished as I wished. View all posts by bonnie griffith

3 responses to “a plein air sort of morning

  • Ida M. Glazier

    I really love your work, and your blog!!! You are a very sharing and interesting artist. I tell all my friends about you!! Wish I could go out plein-air with you, I would learn a lot!! Its been hot here, but I will make it again tommarrow!


  • B Zahn Griffith

    Ida, thank you for your kind words. Sometime I am going to do a road trip down your way and when that happens we will go out and paint! It's hot here too. I thinkyour weather and ours are very similar. I am in SE WA and it's very different climate from Seattle and Olympic area of the state. We are hot and dry in the summer 90-100's. sometimes too hot to go out and paint during the day.Keep painting Ida! and have a wonderful day!


  • Ron

    Boy, those are some great plein air paintings! The wide frames look good.


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