Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More excellent observations on plein air painting from Ed Terpening

Asilomar #2
(won LPAPA "Best of Plein Air" Juried Exhibition 2006)

Oil, 9 x 12 inches
copyright Ed Terpening

Ed Terpening continues to interest and inform with his series of 10 observations on plein air painting. You can click the Top Observations tag on his blog "Life Plein Air" to see the first half of the series (#1-5 ) - or view individual ones on the links below. I've included a small extract from each one for you to get a flavour of what Ed's saying. Of course it also means I've got a quick digest in one post of where he's up to at the half way mark!
Over the coming months I plan to launch a series of posts that expose what I consider my top 10 observations as a plein air painter. Many of these apply across mediums and I’m sure you’ve seen many in one form other the other in books, workshops or other sources. These represent my take on these topics, offered to give you another perspective.
Why do you paint what you do, and how does that intention reach the viewer? It all starts with a spark of recognition. Something you see sparks an emotion in you that you felt compelled to capture and keep alive in a painting. That spark may have been based on a memory, something universal or your emotional state at the time you saw it. It hardly matters because once you have that response–for the artist–the analytical and technical process of translation can begin. If you paint to communicate what you feel about your subject, then this observation is for you
Great paintings have a great underlying abstract design, typically based on 3-7 large abstract shapes of value. If you’re a representational artist, don’t fool yourself: perfectly painted detail only matters if it sits within a broader design of interesting abstract shapes. Those few big abstract shapes will make or break a painting. No amount of detail can save a poorly designed painting.
All group painting activities I’ve been involved in has included discussions about equipment. Everyone is always checking out everyone else’s setup. We all face too many obstacles when creating art, so don’t add another one–especially when it’s under your control–by not considering carefully your setup. There are endless ways to configure your studio or plein air kit, and not everything I do will be right for you, but here are some things I’ve learned.....
I’ve noticed a few consistent traits of artists: they live a long time; they’re always learning; and willing to share what they know freely. The master’s I’ve met have stressed that they’re still discovering new things and pushing themselves, always studying. They have great humility. You’re either the type of person that loves a constant challenge or one who wants an “end point” to your artist journey. If you’re reading this post, you’re likely the former.
....while you’re in the design stage before you’ve laid down a stroke, analyze your subject and think ahead about a color plan. Use color separation to create paintings with a vibrancy that will challenge the human eye.
Links: Ed Terpening - Life Plein Air

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1 comment:

Ed Terpening said...

Thanks, Katherine! I'm enjoying the series, particularly the great feedback on my observations. I've also recently started posting videos of pages in progressive stages. Hope they're helpful... Cheers!

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