Playing Outside

seascape horizon in blue, black and white

Have you watched an artist painting or sketching en plein air or perhaps tried it yourself?

Playing with abandon, like a child…..just you, the paint, paper and brushes, all working together can be very invigorating.  Take it outside and you add another exciting element to the experience.

I love the way children are fascinated when they find you painting. They immediately become inspired to try it themselves ….. when they’ve finally asked all their questions!  Generally, there’s a supply of sketchbooks in our caravan to give away when we’re travelling.  I’ve also given kids the odd sketch or two because they are so enthusiastic.

I once sketched a young girl climbing some Northern Territory rocks and gave her the sketch.  Next thing we knew, her young brother was posing for me to sketch him too!  Naturally, I obliged. Subsequently, the family “parked their caravan” at our place while travelling in Tasmania. Making friends with art!

My motivation these days, when plein air painting or sketching, is not to go home with an image that visually represents a scene.  Rather, it’s about getting the feel for a place, the atmosphere, mood and the felt characteristics. 

What colours, textures, techniques, movements and marks could be used to express how the area makes me feel?  Are there ways to use tools, make marks and find effects to create a sense or feeling of place? …… Something that comes through and from me, my random choices, arm, hand and body movements?

I’m not asking myself these questions while working though. It’s more an overarching aim, to be achieved or happened upon by “just doing it”.

This can result in some rather messy images, as you can see above!  But, hopefully, within the mess, there is treasure! Something to be reinterpreted and to inspire new art or ideas.  There are often useful crops (small sections/images) within the sketches.  At the very least there will be some marks to reuse in the studio to help when attempting to recapture the experience.

Things don’t always develop further right after a sketching trip.  Inspiration could happen any time, even years later. There’s a lot of potential “material” waiting patiently in the studio to fuel art.

We’ll look at just what might happen with all that “material” in future issues of Studio News.

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Click here to find out about exhibitions Wendy currently has work in.

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