Art, oil painting, Painting

Plein Air workshop with Mary Lou Epperson

I recently took part in a 2 day workshop with Mary Lou Epperson in the wine country near Portland Oregon. I was really surprised at how different it is to paint plein air. It doesn’t seem like it should be. Afterall, it’s just more shapes and colors, right?

I didn’t make anything to be particularly proud of there but that wasn’t the intention. I attempted some techniques that the instructor suggested. In fact the process of constructing a painting, as described in the class, was different than I’m used to.

McMinnville Plein Air

10″x12″ oil on canvas board

This is the most developed painting I did during class. I was specifically dealing with something I often struggle with, making a field or similar expanse of one color look interesting in paint. I was thinking of some of the recent paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith like this one for instance ‘Wheatfield‘. I really admire the loose and confident way he handles these situations.

As I’ve said before, Practice, Practice, Practice.

One of the things I came away from the workshop with was an appreciation for the fact that I don’t need to sell my work. In talking with and overhearing some of the conversations of other attendees, I was reminded of what it was like when I was trying to make money at it.

It was, for me, very frustrating to work to get some momentum going with painting and at the same time have to be documenting it and making contacts with galleries. When it came time to exhibit, I’d have to switch to framing, etc and would lose my concentration on painting. Showing, even if it was financially successful, was never really satisfying to me.

I have a lot of admiration for those that can do it.

5 thoughts on “Plein Air workshop with Mary Lou Epperson”

  1. Bill,
    Just keep plugging away at it.
    I am equally frustrated with how I am progressing; but I have to take the longer view and look how my work is now versus a year ago. The difference is marked even if the progress seems too slow.


  2. Bill,

    This isn’t bad! The colors are really nice. I can’t wait to see your work when you start throwing those brush strokes down with confidence.



  3. I love this painting–the colors are really interesting and moody and the composition is wonderful. I’m envious of your chance to attend the workshop. I’m trying to find one around here and have written to several artists. About the painting to sell and art biz in general I’m totally with you on that. After hanging a show in March (and doing all the framing and a little publicity for it) and teaching watercolor for a few years I decided to let go of art biz as much as possible and just do my thing. Exactly as you said, it takes away from painting time and that’s what gives me joy. Fortunately I have a day 3.5 days a week that pays the bills and the occasional painting commission that covers most of the art supplies. I’m even tired of those though, especially when someone wants me to change a favorite part of a painting to make it a little more realistic. Ick.


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