Pastel Dust en Plein Air…


The last post talked about the trip to Whidbey Island, WA for the Northwest Pastel Society annual Paint Out and included some of the photos I shot of the island. But the main reason for going was to actually paint out on location of choice!

I like to be surrounded by all my props usually.   That way you are never without a color or particular paper, etc.  In other words, there isn’t much excuse to not get a painting done.  Well, then when plein air comes into play…it requires you hauling your supplies and equipment out in country, set up and paint.  Whoa!  I can’t possibly take all my “stuff. ‘ So I condense things, take my full size French easel, another bag of necessaries, like the extra pastels the art box won’t hold, paper, gloves, apron, board, etc.   And a chair.  Ok, with this load I am not going to venture too far from base.  The easel is a torture…there is always something coming undone and flopping and dragging.  So in this instance, if you are really lucky, maybe you can drive to the spot you want to paint and on Whidbey, you can do that at many sites.  One site we painted was in a state park and there was a picnic table.  Heaven!  The light was great and I painted a trail leading into the forest         Another day we found this beautifully landscaped rhodie garden which had many more varieties plants than just rhodies.  All fairly easy spots to get to.  So then I decided if I am going to paint plein air then I best quip myself with a manageable pack.  So that is what I have done.  I scrapped the French easel for a compact Daniel Smith 5# one that holds your pastel box when set up.  It carries easily and then with one bag and fold up chair (optional, depending on where and how long I am going) I can at least get out of the parking lot!

So plein air takes some extra effort, but there is nothing like getting out there and painting without the aid of a photo.  You need to take into consideration the ever-changing light, the elements, narrowing your field of view into something manageable and have the props you need with you. A well done plein air piece just stands out from the crowd!

Happy painting…             

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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

2 responses to “Pastel Dust en Plein Air…

  • Sue Martin

    And you definitely stand out, Bonnie! These are beautiful. I agree with the special nature of plein air. I need to do as you have done and pare my equipment down to something I can hike with.

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    • bonnie griffith

      thanks Sue! You need to have the right stuff, but not a bunch of heavy equipment; otherwise you are too pooped to paint when you get where you want to be painting. I am not going to hike 5 miles with stuff, however light weight and compact! I don’t want to be too far from civilization! Be seeing you soon, hopefully – well first part of Oct if you are home…I will pin down dates mid month (Sept). Just heard about a plein air event in Moscow, ID the 28Sept-1Oct. Think I will go to that and then head south. That’s my plan at the moment.

      Like

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