Thursday, October 10, 2013

Painting People Outdoors

I'm finally catching up on some "house keeping" regarding the many paintings I've done in recent months. This one caught my attention after not looking at it for a while, and I thought I would give my thoughts on the art of painting people outdoors.

This young lady was kind enough to model for a few of us during an outdoor painting session with friends. I don't do as much painting from life outdoors as I do in a studio, but certain things about this painting made me want to analyze it more.

This was a quick study done in about 2 hours, so it doesn't have the refinement of my commissioned portraits. As I recall, it was early August, and the late morning sun was beating down on the small shelter we shared in a park. Green grass, trees, and other vegetation surrounded us.

I must have been "in the zone" while I painted, as my colors in the skin tones are much more pronounced, vibrant, and reflective of outside sources than usual. In the photo below I point out specifics.

1. Note the blue reflection on one side of her face. I would say that this is reflected light from the sky, but the darker color at the top of her forehead (5) is likely the result of shade from the shelter that we were under. This leads me to believe that the blue reflections are coming from the sun shining off a light gray-blue roof that was on a building not too far away.

2 & 3. Her youthful glow reflected the many greens that were prevelant in the area we were in. Because we were sheltered, and the light was diffused, I attribute this to the strong summer sun all around us that didn't hit directly, but instead provided soft, colorful shades to appear.

4. Although she wasn't wearing light colors, there is still a reflected light that appears on her neck. That is probably from the roof reflection as well, but could be from the cement base of the shelter. I see that I captured some of the stronger reds directly under her chin and on her left cheek. I would like to think that this is part of the beauty that comes with youth, but it may be a combination of the sun penetrating her translucent skin, or the warmth of the day.

Because this was a group setting, it's not as easy to "set-up" a model to your exact needs or desires, but this was a good practice in painting from life en plein air. I hope to be able to paint Katie again in a more planned pose and clothing. She was a great model!

The combination of warm and cool colors on her face is quite fascinating to me. Here is a link to a site of Daniel Gerhartz, an artist that I admire, and who is a master at painting the figure outdoors:
He recently launched a new video, The Beginning of Autumn, in which he speaks extensively to the joys and difficulties of painting a figure outdoors.

And finally, here is another link to an artist, Daniel Maidman, who's blog post here tells more about the process of painting outdoors:

Thank you for visiting!

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