Studio Notes

a pair of geese flew by; outside my studio window; i’m glad elephants don’t fly

Bug Included

A fellow artist friend, Jane Zhang, came all the way from Texas to paint with me. She has never painted outside before so she wanted to get some tips from me for painting outside. She did not have any equipment or room to pack in her car with kids in tow, so I gladly offered her mine—easel, panels, brushes, medium, and paint. I was so excited about this that I have packed everything the day before. I have checked to make sure that I have everything, and double checked to be sure.

Pretending that I have all the paint I needed.

Pretending that I have all the paint I needed.

Jane came by the next day early in the morning to pick me up. All the way to Longwood Gardens, I had a nagging feeling that I have forgotten something. We found a spot and setup. She wanted me to go over my setup, and show her how I start my painting. While I was demonstrating how I start my painting, I realised that I have forgotten to pack my paints. Doh! 

Fortunately I had placed some paint on Jane’s palette, and I had a tiny bit of leftover paint from my previous outing. I was so embarrassed that I did not tell her, and I continued demonstrating as though I have everything I needed. Meanwhile I secretly text-messaged my partner to bring my paints to me. Until the last minute, I told her that I forgot my paint. 

Jane Zhang proudly signing her first plein air painting.

Jane Zhang proudly signing her first plein air painting.

We talked about massing in the big shapes, anchoring the shadows, composition, and brush handling. It was no surprise that Jane picked up very quickly and finished her first plein air painting. She is not new to painting, just new to painting outside. I am very excited to see the paintings she will be making when she returns to Texas. 

One of the other pleasures of painting outside is bugs landing on your painting. It is like a badge of honour. Of course I could have a bottle of little bugs (Not ticks! Ticks bad!) to sprinkle on my wet paintings, but that would not be in the spirit of plein air painting. 

A big tree in the meadow at Longwood Gardens. Oil on panel, 12 by 8 inches.

A big tree in the meadow at Longwood Gardens. Oil on panel, 12 by 8 inches.