Plein Air Painting – a workshop with Julie Houck
One of the things I did while in Hawaii was to take a 4-day plein-air painting workshop with Julie Houck. This was really difficult for me, as it forced me out of my comfort zone on many levels. Landscapes have never been my thing in any medium, I had never before painted outdoors in oils, and I’m fairly new to oils in any case. In addition, the first day we worked on composition, analogous color schemes and color charm, and I attempted to expand the 5-color palette I’m used to using in order to create more exciting color combinations. The result was complete paralysis by the second day! I decided on the third day to cut my losses go back to the palette I’m used to. I’ll try to add new colors, one at a time, in the coming months. I’ve set myself the task of doing lots of landscapes in the studio – starting on paper with cheap oils, just to reduce my inhibitions, to get ready to go out and do some painting outdoors when the weather gets nice.
Each day of the workshop we painted in a different location in Maui, trying to put into play all that we’d learned about composition, value and color theory. It became painfully obvious to me that it’s a lot easier to criticize someone else’s painting than to keep all of those variables in mind as you paint your own. I don’t have any images of the first day, which was mainly exercises, or the second when I had sort of a meltdown, so I’ll start with day 3.
We painted from my friend Debbie’s house, where the view is what I imagine when I listen to “Over the Rainbow”.
My main objective was just to fill the canvas with paint, so I was pretty happy with the result, although I don’t feel that the canvas reflects much of my personality.
On the fourth and last day, we painted in a place called “Baby Beach”. Here I am with Julie. That gorgeous turquoise water moved in after I’d started, and unfortunately I didn’t get it into my painting (I’m not sure how well I could have captured it with my limited palette either).
Here’s what I saw:
Debbie, on the other hand, was looking out towards all that gorgeous turquoise, and her sunny Hawaiian disposition captured an entirely different mood.
I wish I’d thought to take o photo of Lisa’s painting from the last day too – it was beautifully emotive – an unchained sea. She had decided to let go of her inhibitions and just paint!