Plein Air Painting.

My goal for this whole trip to Arizona was to try something completely new with my art. New subject, new environment, new process. I got exactly that. 

I took a "hiking to paint" plein air workshop taught by Michael Chesley Johnson and spent four days learning all about the way he works and trying it out myself. To be honest, I was completely discouraged after the first day. I hadn't done any landscape painting in almost nine years and the whole experience of painting outside and on site was a bit overwhelming. I didn't even want to look at what I had painted that day. But after spending the evening attempting another piece using a photo reference I was feeling ready to try again.

I had to remind myself that I wasn't there to make a masterpiece. I was there to learn and try new things.

The last day that we painted was the most interesting and challenging due to the weather. Our view was sunny one minute, cloudy the next, followed by partial sun, a rainbow and more clouds until finally we decided to pack up right at the moment it started to pour on us. But that is the nature of plein air painting. It's constantly changing and as an artist you need to constantly adapt.

My two favorite paintings that I completed during the week (or the two paintings that I'm not completely embarrassed to share):

When the sun returns to Cleveland I'm going to try and connect with some plein air painters to continue to expand on what I learned. I'm interested in mixing more of my own style into this more traditional way of painting. I have so many ideas and images in my head from Arizona that I want to develop over these winter months.

(Some of Michael's paintings and photos from the week can be seen here.)