My plein air timeline

I recently came across a draft I wrote a year ago, titled “I hate painting plein air”. As you can guess, it was mostly a rant about all my frustrations with painting away from my studio: having to interpret a scene within seconds, not being able to control the weather or the bugs, having to paint quickly. Plein air is hard, and the discrepancy in quality between my studio pieces and plein air pieces was huge. I pushed myself to keep painting outdoors anyway. I learned a lot, but I didn’t like a single painting I did en plein air in 2020.

One year later, I paint almost exclusively outdoors. I’m still very early on my ~journey~, but gaining confidence in painting outdoors has been so rewarding, I thought I’d share a timeline of my past year of painting landscapes from life.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what helped me improve the most, but I think the biggest difference between my first few paintings and my last was how much more confident I became. Now I can go out painting and know I’ll come back with some positive experience, either a finished painting I like, a day of meeting new people, or just a lot of lessons learned about how to make the next painting experience a little smoother.

a plein air painting done by Gail Kelly art
My first plein air, done in my car between classes in February 2020
a plein air painting done by Gail Kelly art
A plein air piece from June 2020. In hindsight, it is much better than I remember. I remember being frustrated by the all the colors blending together.
a plein air painting by Gail Kelly art
This was my first done this year actually out in the open, a late afternoon in mid January. My hands went numb because of the cold.
a plein air painting done by Gail Kelly art
This one was done in my car in February 2021, just before being hit by two feet of snow. It feels like a breakthrough, but I’m not sure why.
a plein air painting by Gail Kelly art
a march 2021 plain air. I was very excited about spring, I think it pushed me forward in my painting a lot! I wanted to practice drawing the shapes of trees instead of just suggesting foliage.
a plein air painting of the beach by Gail Kelly art
April 2021, I finally made the hour drive to the beach on a hot day. I just love painting dunes and sand, the sky was changing fast with wind and I got to talk to a bunch of locals and fellow painters.
a plein air painting by Gail Kelly art
This was done on May 1st 2021, and I got to the park with the plan to focus on the abstract shapes of the sky.

  

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