So how did you spend your Saturday morning? I finally figured out how to do my first FAVE outdoor painting. I'm going to coin this new painting term, FAVE, because I haven't seen anyone mention it to condense all the key components of painting. F=focal point; A=atmosphere, V=values, E=edges.
I have collected, studied, and accumulated every book, magazine article, and YouTube how-to video about oil painting. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the different techniques, tips, and ways each teacher does a painting.
But today's painting shows dramatic progress from my first outdoor painting earlier in the week with Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass. That first painting never moved from the ugly stage, but it did not discourage me one bit. I'm not in a competition and comparing myself to these other professional painters who have devoted their life to this would be foolish.
Instead, I learned exactly what I could do differently. Today's painting was outdoors, by myself, at Cove Springs in Frankfort. This fantastic nature preserve, with multiple hiking trails, is only 15 minutes from home.
Here's what worked and how I made it my FAVE.
Bob Ross introduced so many people to art because of his cheerful optimism and a philosophy that there are "no mistakes...just happy accidents."
This new t-shirt was a gift from daughter Hannah and a nice reminder during my first "Paint Out" with Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass, a group of incredibly talented artists who have their own studios, paint professionally, and don't make any mistakes or happy accidents that I can see.
None of us follows the techniques of Bob Ross. We have many more hours of practice and advanced attempts. But he is an example of happily trying to learn. It takes guts for a 60-year-old like me to move way out of my comfort zone and hang out with professional artists. But the only way to avoid failure is to avoid trying and hanging out with this kind of talent has to raise the bar for my learning.
I spent another hour at home refining this painting (shown above), and what I learned from this outdoor painting journey was immense. There was absolutely no blue in the water at Elkhorn Creek, which defies any natural instinct you might have when painting water. In fact, there was a major dominance of dark grey, spiced with a little olive green, even a little purple. I didn't make any mistakes, but I experienced a lot of happy accidents.
Most importantly, I learned so much from these 2 1/2 hours at Elkhorn Creek in Midway. On a second attempt, I would more quickly and boldly start with a dark, S curve of grey. I would block in a variety of greens, fading to a distant blue, for all of the foliage. And then I would work on a top layer of dashes of color over the dark grey underpainting of water.
My first try had too much color and not enough dark values. I think it's because of working in intense sunshine that all values are high key or too light on my palette, painting, and even observations.
This is my first post for what I intend to be my journal, notes, and lessons learned on this path to improving my art. Welcome to my art journey. I hope you are inspired to let happy accidents drive you forward to pursuing new challenges and goals.
My art journey
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