Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Year's Plein Air Paintings - July Trip

I just got back from what's become an annual July sojourn for myself and a small group of artist friends: our annual July plein air painting trip to Whitefish Falls ON, in the LaCloche Mountains north of Manitoulin Island. We had fabulous weather and I got right to it - beginning with this block-in of the cabin that sits across the island from the one we stay in.


I let this one dry for a few days before coming back to it. Meanwhile I made my second attempt in as many years at this driftwood log, which I discovered a few years ago on a rocky little peninsula just beyond our island. My first stab at this piece was a disaster and I ended up painting it over.


This time I think I did a bit better, but it's still not quite a success. Maybe next year I'll try again...

Next day I blocked in my 3rd painting of the week; a new challenge for me: attempting to capture the transparency of water and what lies beneath it's surface.


This ended up being my most successful painting of the week, I think. I'd managed to get the transparency to my satisfaction and was prepared to stop there... but our instructor, Richard Edwards, came by and pointed out that the real challenge would be capturing not just the transparency, but also the reflection on the surface of the water that obscures some of the transparency.


It took some nerve to paint in the cloud reflections. As I brought the brush down to begin covering some of the sunken logs and stones, I thought, "This is where you ruin this painting." But ultimately, it was an important step forward and I'm happy I took it. Progress!

Every year during our painting week we take a day trip to the foot of nearby Willisville Mountain. This year I ventured up the back trail that leads through a lush forest and eventually to the top of the mountain. My goal was to paint the sun-spangled forest floor of the trail - another new challenge for me - in the past I'd avoided scenes like this, too daunted at the thought of organizing all those tree trunks into a viable composition.


The solitude of my location was both resplendent and a little unnerving. There are bears in these woods and the whole time I was there, I kept waiting for the sound of heavy breathing over my shoulder. I smashed this piece out in about two hours and packed up double-quick.


Next time I want to paint a forest scene, I think I'll find a nice spot near home. The only bears we get in the city are on Kraft peanut butter jars!

The last day on the island, I revisited my cabin painting block-in from early in the week. Here's how it turned out after a few hour's work.



Anonymous said...

good results! I think all artists should make this kind of retreat to clear the cobwebs! Thanks for posting.

Leon Aguilar said...

Hi Leif, great work and thanks for sharing! I also was reading your comment about that author who "hated" your work for the cartoon Wordsworth. I guess he didn't hate it too much, as he did not think to tell you about it. LOL thanks for your page and sharing your knowledge and talent!
Leon Aguilar