The Trouble With Landscape Painting

by Lisa

The other day I went out to do a little landscape painting. The Santa Ana winds were not threatening to carry my canvas into the Pacific Ocean, the sun was not threatening to bake my arms into a shriveled mass of malignancy, my back problem seems to be resolving, and all seemed just right for me to paint a lovely little study outdoors.

This is true. All was right. However, finding something to piant was another story. I got out there early to get the early morning light. By 10:00 the early morning light was gone and I was still wandering aimlessly looking for a masterpiece and getting pissed off that I was wasting so much gas. Mind you I am mostly an indoor painter, and do not venture out enough to practice this. Part of the practice is getting good at finding something quickly. Also, being able to settle for something, and edit and move bushes and trees, etc. to make it work QUICKLY.

As a landscape painter, you learn that the light changes faster on certain things. If you are painting a vista for example, the light change is more subtle. If you are focusing on one flower that is just catching the light and everything around it is in shadow, wait 10 damn minutes after you’ve already started that masterpiece, and there will be maaaaany more flowers in the light leaving you to say to yourself, a freaking PICTURE of this would work better. I’m learning, but I ain’t showing you said masterpiece. I’m going back to drawing, and back pain, in my studio where leaves don’t stick to your butt when you pee.

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14 Responses to The Trouble With Landscape Painting

  1. Aw…the trials and tribulations of plein air painting. I know your pain……but when you pull one off (leaves included) it is an amazing experience and a great teaching experience too! Practice makes outdoor painting easier and shaking it a bit helps removes the leaves!

  2. Lori says:

    Lisa, here is what you do, you go out to a pretty spot. In the shade. Close your eyes, turn around three times and point. Open your eyes. Paint what you are pointing at.

    Double dog dare yah!

  3. Nava says:

    And that is why I stick to painting figures and people and their expressions and moods.

    I gave up on landscapes – just can’t do them. And so, whenever I see a breathtaking landscape, I just take the freaking picture, then go back to my studio and paint. A figure.

  4. Yeah…I paint outdoors alot in the summer and I’m ALWAYS surprised by the different effort from painting in the studio. Plein air is not for sissies, but it is worth the effort. I’ve just come to realize that they’re not all going to be winners…but I always gain something positive from the experience. Really!!!

  5. ivdanu says:

    Too complicated for me, painting on the spot! I just go out there, hunt down some good images, freeze tehm forever in digital form and come back to my place and do – then – the landscapes (no light change, I can do all the changes I like etc.) Why all that pain?

    Ok, I know. there is the feeling, the inavoidable feeling you cannot get from a photo. the odours, the warmth of the sun, the wind… Still, you can bottle up some of that too… I guess…

  6. Rebecca says:

    Lisa, I know how you feel. I will say, though, that my quadraceps are very good from all the hovering!
    Can’t wait to see it when you are ready. ready yet? how about now?

  7. grfxho says:

    This is why I stick to photography.

  8. wrjones says:

    I’m really impressed by the way Lisa tones down her whining in public. It really is like a big jet engine roar. I’ve gone deaf in the ear nearest her.

  9. Barbara Pask says:

    I always love to visit, you two make my day. I know exactly what you mean about nothing to paint, that is usually my experience too. I am very happy painting inside, when I do venture out I paint crap that nobody wants to see, lol. I can relate.

  10. I like painting outdoors because I like seeing all the great things around that I don’t usually sit and look at.
    What I DON’T like is looking at what I painted when I was outdoors enjoying being there. Some day I may figure out how the heck to simplify beautiful stuff to paint it beautifully… Just not yet, sigh.
    Admit it though… it IS nice to get outside once in a while, isn’t it?

  11. Bonny says:

    I don’t paint well on location either. So I use dry media instead. Graphite, coloured pencils and water soluble pencils are great alternatives to wet paint.
    Afterwards, you have a study to work from in the comfort of your studio. Of cours, photographs work, too;))

  12. Lisa I guess you forgot that device that enables a woman to pee standing up, thus avoiding the stuck leaves.

    One of my collectors who is a really honest and endearing woman told me she thought she might like to take a plein air painting class sometime. This sweet gal is a hard working physician and also has a summer place near us where she welds a small chain saw and mower to tame her property.

    She liked the idea of having a good excuse to sit outside and look at the scenery.

  13. Lisa says:

    Okay Diana clue me in about that device. A jar? Catheter?

    Lori, after you said, “turn around three times, and point”, I thought you were then going to say “Squat and pee”. Afterall, let’s consider our priorities here.

  14. Lori says:

    No No Lisa, “I said close your eyes,” etc. etc. You DON’T want to do THAT and pee! You may end up in a patch of poison ivy! ((((shudder)))) Bill you would really hear some whining then, with very good reason. I would probably hear it all the way from Florida.
    After running the Plein Air Painters of the Treasure Coast for a number of years now, I usually pick parks that have bathrooms. My members are in the 40’s to 80’s in age. Most of them aren’t very tough. If they can paint outside any of you all can. Heck if I can do it any of you can.

    Oh and take bug spray so the bugs won’t bite. Here is a link to the device, there are several out there;

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