Plein Air or Painting from Image

I would do plein air whenever circumstances permit, be it weather or accessibility of a location. Sometimes, honestly, it is harder to overcome one's laziness to get up on our two feet and travel to a spot to paint. I am not against painting from image in the studio. In fact, as artists, we should be doing both as much as we could. In the buyer's point of view, it doesn't matter whether a painting was done in the studio or on location outdoors. In this case, I am talking about landscape painting.

Watercolour on cold press paper, 15" X 20"
These paintings on watercolour papers were done in the studio from images that I took while I was scouting for subjects to paint and doing research.

It took me a while to get use to painting in the studio actually. Looking at an image, the 3 dimensionality of the form is lost, this greatly impede the observational process. The image is already flatten, so obviously it makes it easier to translate it into drawing. Yes and no.

Painting on location has its advantages. First of all, I am responding to the scene real time, this in turn also makes painting on location difficult. The fleeting light and ever changing shadows becomes a challenge, and yet fun. Painting from image at the same time remove the element of responding to the scene emotionally. It becomes a dry process, it gets boring easily.

To change all that, it is essential not to copy, likewise in painting on location, I have to remind myself not to copy the scene too. Never copy a photo, that's the most challenging part, that is because the photo is not a perfect reference. Make use of the experience gained during plein air sessions to do that. Pay attention to image making; composition is king. The image only serves as a springboard to the final painting.

The advantage to painting in the studio is, everything is in control.

In time to come, I would show more of the process.

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