I took a bike ride through the NW industrial zone this morning. I especially like these kinds of sites on off days when they’re deserted. It wasn’t really cold but the sun kept ducking behind the clouds and it was a bit breezy. I wish I had dressed a bit more warmly.
I sketched this box car a couple of times. It was a really relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
I’ve attempted a couple of plein aire oil paintings over that last week and have found it even more challenging than studio painting. The primary thing I’ve struggled with this week, is learning to simplify what I see and distill the information down to a few essential values. Yesterday, however, I accidentally discovered a tool that’s been very helpful with this. Out of a scrap of mat board, I made a small frame, about 3 by 5 inches, to frame what I’m drawing. In side of the frame I taped a piece of visqueen and drew a 1 inch grid on it with waterproof ink. This is a pretty standard tool for plein aire artists, I think, but what I didn’t expect was that looking through the visqueen, which is old and not as clear as it may once have been, distorted the image in a way that made it much easier to simplify the shapes. This little tool has been very helpful. It’s kind of like squinting without having to squint, I wonder though, is it cheating?
Nah! Painters over the ages have used all kinds of crap to help them translate life into paint. I even read recently in a plein aire painting book a suggestion to use photoshop to blur a photo to paint from. Now that seems like cheating to me, but is it really any different than this?