I have had conversations of late on the topic of painting in the field to the studio. Every time the topic comes up, I am struck by the mind set of some who paint on location, or have recently started that practice. With the exception of a few, including myself, most have this notion that it is somehow different from the studio process. To my way of thinking, it is not that different….or, it should not be thought of as different! Painting on location, or (Plein air), is not a style of painting as many seem to think. It is in fact the act of painting outdoors in the open air.
I see a lot of so called (Plein air) paintings that have a similar look….almost as if it were taught! I personally don’t like the term loose….painterly is a much more appropriate term, in my opinion. Loose has a negative connotation…..sloppy! I am a big fan of painterly paintings and subjects suggested in a broad fashion within reason…..I certainly strive to have my paintings be painterly. If the imagery suggested is not of distinguishable good shapes, then in my opinion, they are weak paintings! I am not suggesting for one minute that abstract paintings can’t be strong paintings…..I love good abstract paintings…..but, that is a different genre of painting!
"Bulow Sugar Plantation Ruins", 11x14, oil, (field study)
"Bulow Plantation Ruins", 24x30, oil, (Studio painting)
The point I’m trying to make is that I personally don’t want my studies or field studies to look that much different that my studio work. The most noticeable thing should be the contrast in size. Generally one does smaller field studies…..but, finished paintings can be done in larger formats requiring multiple visits to the site to finish the larger compositions. Generally, most artists do the studio pieces from a sketch and photo reference taken. If one is using a location study alone, more reason to have a study that has the feeling desired and the information needed for the larger piece!
The two paintings here are a perfect example of what I mean! The 11x14 field on location study and the 24x30 studio piece are very similar. If one didn’t know the size of each, it might be difficult to determine which one was the (Plein Air) painting….and, which was the studio painting.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings!
Hodge Soileau OPA