Thursday, July 05, 2007

San Elijo Lagoon

San Elijo Lagoon - Plein Air by David R. Darrow 14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD Collection of Jolie Elman
Glendora, CA – USA

About This Painting

So what does a full-time artist do on his day off? Same thing: painting.

Our nation celebrated another year of Independence and Freedom yesterday... both are pretty important concepts to Americans, though I am not too sure how greatly they are appreciated anymore — since we grow up with them, and that's just how things are.

I exercised my Freedom of Expression by getting up at 5:00 am and meeting a Canadian for a morning Plein Air session at San Elijo (san-el-EE-ho) Lagoon, in Cardiff by the Sea, CA. [Google Map]. We positioned ourselves about 3/4 of a mile from the beach, looking directly west across the lagoon. It was overcast, a little misty and very quiet. The only sounds were distant cars and local wildlife: seaguls, egrets and fish jumping out of the still water to catch bugs for an instant breakfast.

My painting partner for the day was Holly, who, like me, had an illustration career that kept her indoors for the better part of her creative life, so for each of us, the opportunity to go outside and paint sounds more like a play day. And it makes working on a national holiday seem not-so-insane.

David, talking and talkingBonus: unlike working alone in a studio, there's someone to talk with.

Or maybe just talk to.

Holly asserts, with photographic documentation, that I just painted and talked. I think she did all the talking, but I don't have any photos to prove it.

Painting hit the dirt!She's lucky I spoke to her at all after she hit the ground laughing like some kind of Canadian Tickle-Me-Elmo doll when my painting blew off my easel landing on the ground exactly the way toast and jam always does: gooey side down. She was still laughing as I wiped the whole painting off the canvas with a rag and started over.

Well, this fresh start ended up being a good thing. Also, some of you artists that subscribe to my mailing list might appreciate knowing that this was done with a limited palette: Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, and Cobalt Blue, plus black and white. The limited palette does two things: first, it really forces me to concentrate on values instead of hues, and second, it unifies the painting, since every brush stroke likely has all the other colors in it. I did not rinse my brush until the painting was done... just constantly wiped it off on my rag.

By the way, if you are not familiar with the term plein air, it is French for open air and traditionally describes the genre of paintings that are done outdoors with the intent of quickly capturing the feeling of open air.

Personally, I have expanded that definition to include: The relatively short expanse of space between the easel and the ground. i.e. — "David watched in helpless horror as his painting plummeted through plein air coming to rest at his feet."  ◙


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7 comments:

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I'm sorry. You told it so humorously that I laughed too.
This happened to a friend of mine at the beach. She paints thick and the thing was encrusted BUT still a nice painting. When it dried it was kind of sparkle-y in a prism-ic sort of way.
Unique. Glad it all worked out and also have been using a limited palette lately to achieve that great color harmony.
Nice Work.

Carolyn Hietala said...

Your experience has certainly renewed my interest in painting outdoors! Beautiful work as always ;0)

silvina said...

Beautiful painting and a very funny post! Every time I schedule a plein air class something goes wrong. I want to learn how but I think I'm supossed to continue developing my skill with figures. I'm also working with a limited palette for the same reasons you listed.

I need to make time to read through your '15 minutes of fame' post. Looks really good!

silvina said...

Beautiful painting and a very funny post! Every time I schedule a plein air class something goes wrong. I want to learn how but I think I'm supossed to continue developing my skill with figures. I'm also working with a limited palette for the same reasons you listed.

I need to make time to read through your '15 minutes of fame' post. Looks really good!

Mike said...

David . .You definetely had me at the first time I clicked on your site. Thinking about this specific palette, it seems perfect for the weather conditions you emulated. Fabulous stuff!

Fawzan Barrage said...

I think this is an exceptional painting. I love the colour harmoney and the expertly done mood. Bravo!

Cher said...

Keep up the good work.