Art, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air, Sketching, watercolor

More Plein Air from Sauvie Island

I returned to Sauvie Island for another go at plein air. Coming over the bridge that leads onto the island you’re presented with a spectacular panorama including both Mt Hood and Mt St Helens on a clear day. The island is very flat, unlike most other landscapes around here, so you can see long distances. I always want to stop on the bridge and paint from there.

This time I continued down to the end of Sauvie Island road into the wildlife area where the road narrows and turns to gravel. I remembered years ago, when I was driving around the island looking for things to photograph to paint, coming across a beautiful view of Mt St Helens and that’s what I was looking for. I found it just as I remembered it and there was a great spot to pull off the road with the Mountain in view.

It was another perfect day. The air was crystal clear and the temp was in the 70s. Mt St Helens has been erupting again for quite a while and I could see puffs of steam rising above it’s ruined peak throughout the day.


Click for larger view

I started out with a quick ink and watercolor sketch.

Mt St Helens from Sauvie Island - ink and watercolor

Ink and watercolor – (click for larger view)

Since I found such a convenient site to park, I was able to spoil myself by setting my pochade up in the shade right next to the truck.

View of setup for Mt St Helens plein air

Click for larger view

The road I was on is in a fairly remote part of the island but since it was such a beautiful day on a long weekend there was some traffic. The road ends just a little beyond my site at a place popular for fishing. The passing cars would drive between me and my view, Since I was partly hidden from oncoming traffic by brush and the occupants of the cars were often surprised to see me at the last minute and stared as the passed but no one stopped or spoke to me.

Mt St Helens from Steelman Rd plein air

6″ x 8″ oil on canvas (click for larger view)

Here’s the completed oil painting. I think that each plein air painting I’ve done has been a little better than the one before but I’m still a not really happy with them. I’m staying loose with the brushwork and I feel like I’m gaining confidence in that. On the negative side, however, I think most of my plein air oils suffer from a compositional standpoint. This one, as with others, doesn’t have a strong focal point. What drew me to paint the scene was the mountain, but I don’t think the rest of the composition supports it very well. I also feel that the Mountain doesn’t recede enough in space. Looking at the photo, the mountain is very faint. Since it’s the point of interest, making it so faint may make the painting even more ambiguous compositionally.

Now that I’ve photographed it, I think I’ll fiddle with it a bit and try to make the mountain and more distant fields recede more, but I don’t think that will really make the image more interesting. The lines in the composition don’t lead the eye toward the mountain. I don’t think the eye really know where to look.

Advice, criticism, comments all appreciated.

2 thoughts on “More Plein Air from Sauvie Island”

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