As an OPA Master, I’ll be participating in a blog found on their web site this month, answering questions and responding to comments.
Hi Doug, looking forward to this…
You have done vibrant plein air landscape for decades and your work has such force and life.
So often, when a plein air painting is translated in the studio into a larger work, it loses the vitality.
What are your thoughts about this and do you have suggestions for maintaining the vitality in the studio painting?
Now here’s a great question about guarding against the loss of vitality when translating an outdoor landscape painting into a larger version in the studio. So what is it that causes the feeling of vitality in the original painting done on site? One of the main causes is rapid execution. The sun is not in the same place as the painting progresses creating changes in what the artist is seeing which causes an urgency to rapidly move to completion. There isn’t the time for fussy explanations and details.
The artist initially paints in the large masses and gets paint all over the surface. The large masses are generalities and are stated with accuracy of placement, color, value and chroma (brighter colors in the foreground) but no detail. The large initial masses contain suggestions of all the decisions made before the painting has begun… center of interest, composition, perspective both linear and aerial, an indication of the color scheme and the elements which will be included, eliminated, shifted in position, exaggerated or diminished in attraction power. Then as the painting moves rapidly toward completion, the paint is not overworked and the painting retains a sense of… vitality.
Now in the studio, the artist has decided to create a larger work using reference to a plein air paintings as a start. A large studio painting is not a smaller painting made larger but a work with a completely new set of considerations. for instance, in the studio painting the artist may introduce figures, animals, vehicles or any manner of new additions. This may cause a shift in the focus, or center of interest, of the painting. Once these decisions are made the painting is begun using the same approach as the plein air painting described above. This time an artificial urgency is imposed using larger brushes than in the original and approximating a similar rapid execution vitality. The great difference is that in nearing the end of the larger studio painting the artist slows down and paints the figures etc. with more clarity and accuracy.
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