Sunday, 22 January 2012

SVPAP Member Blog Spot -- Cathy Mabius

 I have to admit that I like to be outdoors... but plein air painting is so much more than just enjoying time outside.  As any plein air painter will attest, we have to be our own sherpas and put up with the vagaries of weather, insects, distractions by the dozen and forgo our personal comfort in order to do it.  And, amazingly we do it willingly! 
 Why, because it is so important to capture what our eyes see, but a camera cannot... the colors, the values and the experience of being there.  
 In the top photo, you'll see me painting.   The above photo is of one of the plein air studies that I did that day.  I know that I would never have gotten this painting from just snapping a few photos and trying to recreate it in the studio.  It was done fast, as it was almost the end of the day for the event (Harrisburg Gallery Walk 2009 at the Governor's Residence) and sun was low and intense.  I got at least 90 % of it done in a half hour.  Later in the studio, when I was shoring up the brick wall and tightening those edges, I pulled up the digital photo that I knew I took.  It was hard to find, because none of the brilliant light was there, the red brick wall, well, looked red and the overhanging tree was a bit bland.  I didn't follow the photo except for seeing the structure of the tops of the pillars, etc.  I honored the colors that I put down that day.
That is what plein air painting is all about for me -- gathering information that I can't get in any other way than sitting there and getting it done.  Despite the bugs, the sweltering heat and passing people commenting on my painting -- good and bad  (I remember a comment from one man as I was just starting to block in a painting -- he told me to "keep with painting, you'll get there one day...")
 Here's another plein air done while painting with fellow SVPAP painter, Sharon Benner, in Gettysburg. In some respects, yes, it is a bit crude and a gutteral response.  But it is an honest response, which is what plein air is all about.
Lastly, I'll share a little study done near New Hope, PA.  The coolness in the shade was wonderful and the sense of light was so delicate.  This one hasn't been out of the studio.  Not because I don't think it worthy of going to a gallery, but because its value is for me is to have as a reference when I finally get time to create a larger studio piece from it.

Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into how I approach plein air painting...  HAPPY PAINTING.


Claire Beadon Carnell said...

Cathy, it is wonderful to read your comments on how you approach your work. You have a wonderful way of capturing the light and essence of a scene.
I think I would just hang on to the New Hope piece and never let it go!

Cecelia Lyden said...

Wonderful commentary, Kathy and beautiful paintings--that onlooker certainly was perceptive--"just keep painting--you'll get there". thank you for sharing this amusing anecdote.

Larry Lerew said...

I like your comments about gathering visual information through personal observations while enjoying this unique and special life experience as a plein air artist. Thanks for sharing and seeing the world with paint. We truly enjoy your efforts.