Tag Archives: plein air

Plein Air Update – See the Final Results

Now that I’m back from my Poetry Marathon of last week, I want to catch up on another event before it gets too far into the past. You may remember that I participated in a plein air event in Chestnut Hill on June 12 – here are the versions I ended the day with. Two smaller pieces and one larger one.

Now, I’ll show you each painting, its progression at the event, and where it finished up after some work on it at home. First up, Avenue.

Next, Surly Street.

Finally, Best Time.

More Remodelings

Do you remember this painting? I did it in the plein air event on June 14, 2015, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

Plein air version.

Plein air version.

But, I took the painting home and I couldn’t get happy with the result. I had felt somewhat constricted by the “necessity” of painting what I saw. If nothing else, I finally realized that for me, plein air means looking at what I see in front of me and letting it take me along, not necessarily painting exactly what I am viewing. Valuable lesson.

Anyway, I took the painting home and got to work. Over the next couple of days here is what emerged. I was a lot happier with this version.

“It Will Take All Day To Get There”

Now the painting is gone – sold at the show I went to this past weekend. So I’m glad I kept going with it.

Plein Air

I spent last Sunday in Chestnut Hill, a Philadelphia neighborhood near my house, participating in a plein air event. Now, the timing of this event was not the greatest for me, being as it was a few days before my second cataract surgery. My eyesight was quite confused – when you see 20/20 in one eye and 20/800 in the other, and your close-up vision is also a bit shaky, well, maybe painting is not what you ought to be doing.

But, I went ahead anyway. I want to try this type of event whenever I can. I haven’t been able to do much plein air as I had wanted to so far this summer, once again due to my sight.

Forty artists or so were participating. We were assigned a block along the main street in this section of town, Germantown Avenue. I was in the 8300 block on the east side. I chose a view looking south – an intersection a little bit down the hill. I set up my table and got to work. Once I had the painting pretty well set up, I moved into the shade (it was a very hot day and as the sun moved, I did too).

I enjoyed the experience. I think I’m gradually getting an idea of how plein air and I can work together. I did feel restricted by adhering to the elements of the scene and not adding or amending as I would if I were just painting along free to go anyway I wanted. What this told me is that for me, plein air makes a great starting point, and then I want to embellish. Good. I learned something valuable.

So here are some stages of my painting. I plan to do some changes to it back here at home as soon as my eyes heal a bit more (I had the second surgery yesterday and so far, things have gone well with both eyes). I want to simplify some sections and make some additions to turn it into a landscape that’s partly real and partly straight from my own head. I’ll have to see where it goes.

And here are some photos from the reception – they displayed all the paintings done that day.

Out There in the Fresh Air

In September I participated in the Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton, PA. I’ve exhibited in this show for a long time, about 15 years, and I love doing it. I belong to the Arts Community of Easton, an arts group in the city, and I’ve exhibited in several places there over the years. Easton is about 50 miles from where I live and yet I always feel at home when I visit. I’ve gotten know a lot of people there through my arts connection and I have many great memories and friends there.

Each year the festival puts on a plein air event in addition to the other things going on (which include art, poetry, and music). I have participated in it in the past (take a look at last year’s experience); this was my third time. Since my husband attends the show with me, he can watch the booth while I work. I pick a spot nearby, though, so that I can go back and forth. This limits my choice of subjects, but that’s not a problem – the fair is held in two adjacent parks along the Delaware River, with a great view right in front of me.

I painted this year – in the past I’ve done collage/mixed media. I chose a scene slightly downriver from the show – you can see a little portion of the dam, some canal lock buildings, and a bit of a bridge. I worked all afternoon on Saturday and some on Sunday – the piece had to be turned in Sunday afternoon and we were not allowed to work on it overnight. This year my friend John came to see me and sat with me as I painted. He took a lot of pictures – I felt like a celebrity. It was nice to have company as I worked. The title of the picture is one he suggested.

This painting won second prize in the contest. I was very happy to be recognized.

I like painting in this manner, quickly, and right from the scene.

"Nature's Melody" acrylics on canvas, 18" x 18" plein air painting at the Riverside Festival of the Arts, September, 2014

“Nature’s Melody”
acrylics on canvas, 18″ x 18″
plein air painting at the Riverside Festival of the Arts, September, 2014

Riverside All Weekend

I spent the weekend at a festival in Easton, PA, a small city about 50 miles from my home. I’ve participated in this show for many years and I think it’s one of my favorites. I belong to an art association, the Artist Community of Easton, and I also have exhibited work in the Connexions Gallery there for some time. I know many people in town after all these years and I truly enjoyed getting the chance to spend the weekend there in this show.

The Riverside Festival of the Arts, as it is called, is not just about visual arts – there is poetry and music as well. And, there is a plein air art event, too. I participated in this last activity and I had a great time doing it.

I had to give some thought as to how I wanted to proceed, before I even went to the show. I needed some paints and collage supplies, so I packed up a couple of boxes and figured that I’d work with what I brought and not wish for other materials. I also knew that I could not walk around town and pick a view. I needed to stay near my booth. So, whatever I could find within a few yards would be my subject.

The show is held in two adjacent parks along the Delaware River. The river flows along some yards below the level of the parks with a path running beside it. So I decided that my subject was just a few yards away – the river itself. I walked one row of tents over to the edge and had a great view up above and across the water.

Delaware River - across from our booth.

Delaware River – across from our booth.


I picked up my canvas – an 18″ x 18″ square. At my booth, I covered it with random sections of paper cut from magazine pages, in order to get rid of that blank whiteness. Then I took my materials and sat down on a big rock overlooking the scene, and I painted in the rough outlines of what I wanted to depict. People stopped to talk to me as I worked – that’s part of the intent of the plein air process, to let people see the work evolve.

Then I went back to my chair in my booth and started to collage – holding the piece on my knees. I worked all day Saturday as I also talked with customers, ate lunch, and listened to the music. By the end of the day I was close to being finished. I took the piece home at night but the rules did not allow working on it.

The next morning I looked the piece over again. Really, it didn’t need much more work, I felt. I then painted the edges, put a coat of gloss medium on it, and it was done. I was quite happy with the result and I found the process so much fun!

My husband turned it in for me at the plein air booth. At 3:30 all entries had to be in hand. Then the judging began, and a bit later someone stopped by my booth and told me I had won a prize – go to the music stage and it would be announced. So I did – second prize! I was thrilled.

The works are for sale and are being exhibited at the Quadrant in Easton through October. So some more people will see my vision of the Delaware River on a really nice September day.

Paint Only

I’ve been doing some paintings that have been intended for several different purposes, and here is a selection.

Two of the pieces are “renovations” of existing paintings; I just felt the need to change them and so I did. As I’ve said before, it’s hard for me to stop making improvements – I tell people I only know when a painting is finished when someone buys it or I give it away – until then it might go through several remakings. In this group the representatives are “Ghost House” and “Just a Sliver of a Street”.

“Hidden Garden” is a new one. I set up out in my yard for a plein air session. I wanted to practice working from the scene because this weekend I will be exhibiting in a show in Easton, PA, and I’ve entered a plein air contest. I plan to paint and/or collage whatever I can see from my booth. I did this event a couple of years ago and actually ended up selling the piece I made. Plus I really enjoyed working to a deadline and with an audience.

So this painting was inspired by my garden. (No one said plein air work had to be realistic, did they?)

The three small ones I painted as a donation for the auction for the Allentown (PA) School District’s Academy of the Arts at William Allen High School.The 8″ x 8″ format was a requirement for the event; I enjoyed working with it.