Last week I took an outdoor painting workshop at China Camp with Marin County painter Tim Horn. It was clearer than ever that I don’t enjoy painting in “plein air.” There are technical problems: my acrylic paints dry too fast in all that air, so I struggle with unfamiliar alternative paint types. But that’s not all. The great outdoors is too full of stuff (that would be plein de choses, I believe): flowers, trees, birds, buildings, people, the ocean. And it is too kinetic: the trees sway, the sun keeps moving and the wind might blow my sunbonnet off my head.
Honestly, if God had meant us to paint outdoors, she would not have invented air conditioning and heating.
When I got back to the studio, I happily painted a China Camp scene employing Tim’s big ideas: use the pattern of shadows as the basis for the painting, then use warm colors to bath your scene in light and let cool colors contribute that chilly feeling of shadow.
I feel it was a pretty successful adventure. And a good compromise.