Plein Air for Inspiration

June 13, 2019 Off By Gregory

Of course this Plein Air technique is not always convenient, mainly due to inclement weather conditions and the artist ends up in his studio burnt out and wondering what to paint next. Most artists, including myself have suffered this mental block on more than one occasion and usually the remedy is to just take a short break. This lack of productivity sometimes persists, however, so in an attempt to overcome this I decided one day to try a different approach.

Instead of relying on visual reference for inspiration I switched to imagination as my source and began to invent. Using white oil paint I prepared ten small boards and started scratching into semi-wet underpaintings my own invented compositions of whimsical houses and windswept trees. Empty spaces were filled with water tanks, fence posts and quirky farm animals. The following day I applied different colors blending one into the other working from background to foreground. When dry these colors were further enhanced with the application of transparent glazes.

This new approach was mentally refreshing as I was using a different part of my brain to produce invented compositions and color schemes. It was an exercise in use of imagination. The basic drawings were simple and childlike, unlike my usual plein air technique. With nothing to lose, I began to experiment and take risks, however lacking visual reference, I was conscious not to become repetitive.

Achieving only partial success with this first batch of ten I was nevertheless excited as I knew it was the beginning of the development of a new technique using imagination only as my source of inspiration. Although there has been much trial and error since, my new quirky technique continues to develop as new ideas are continually being introduced.

I now know that when I suffer that ”what to paint next” syndrome, or the weather is not conducive for painting outdoors, I am able to keep painting interesting and continue producing artwork in the studio by inventing compositions and color combinations using imagination only as my inspiration source.