My good friend and great painter, Steve Songer from Utah, quotes this saying from time to time and I was reminded of it today while painting. A lot of art is dependent on the artists intuition, mood and whims, but plein air painting requires a bit of a system, a painting methodology to work out of. Many times, like today, I forget my system and start painting like a mad man because the clock is ticking. If you paint outdoors you need to have your colors arranged in the same way you always arrange them so you don’t have to go looking for your cad orange at the critical moment. Premixing big puddles of key colors before you start helps not only to provide enough paint that is in the general vicinity of where you need it to be, it also allows you to look at what you’ve mixed and compare it to the other puddles that are going to join in the fun. I didn’t do any of that.
The reason for this system is simple, it cuts crtical time spent finding, mixing and tweaking color so you can get moving while the sun sets. In the studio, it’s a lbit of a different story but in the field you need to have all your color ducks in a row. This little study had a built in problem from the getgo, the shadows were moving rapidly as the sun was dropping. Fortunately I saw this one coming and once the main event was roughed in, I focused on the things I knew would be going away. But if I had taken 10 minutes in the very beginning and had a little meditative me time, maybe thought it through, mixed some big puddles, I might not have struggled as much in the end. A little planning goes a long way. One other item of note, I was running into problems getting the intensity into that back orange building, fortunately I was with Don Sondag and I borrowed some of his red and some cad orange, my red was a hue, not sure how that got there, but I’ll say, you can’t get to the intensity of color you need with hues. Get the real thing.