The Quick Study

I am a plein air painter, and doing so, over the years I have developed the knack of painting fast and furiously!  Calling it a knack is somewhat disrespectful?  It has more to do with many years of training and miles and miles of canvas laid out in front of me.

In this blog entry I want to share with you, a few paintings, studies, sketches; that I have never exhibited or shown to anyone – yet.  They are quick studies – done in the fervor of a moment.  They were all painted plein air and each has a story to tell.

In Evergreen, where I live, there is a wonderful view of Mount Evans and the continental divide.  I call it the Golden Willow view.  I have spent many hours painting there on my own and with students, when teaching plein air classes.  The great thing about Golden Willow is that to the west is the grand simple view of Mount Evans, and to the direct east, the other side of the road, is a wonderful red barn scene.  Both views have Bear Creek meandering along with field grasses and mulberry shrubbery.

As I was teaching a small class at Golden Willow, I set up my French box easel and painted along with the class, which I do regularly, as we learn by seeing the teacher do.  The day was young and the sky brilliant blue.  I had little time to work on my painting, as students needed attention.  But the scene is so simple, just a few pieces of color, and I had the confidence and experience of the scene as I had painted it many time previously.  This morning it came together very quickly and had a certain spark going on!  Luckily for the painting, I got involved with the students work and didn’t have time to return to my painting so it remained simple, quick and spot on.

As the day progressed, clouds rapidly grew and built into a grey rainy afternoon.  I changed views and this time faced east toward the red barn.  Now my adrenaline was pumping even more, teaching for me is an active sport of sorts – I respond to the students work as they respond to the ever-changing scene before them – it can be quite exciting, and I put this rush in my painting of the barn.  In a few moments the painting appeared!

My strokes were clean and crisp and every one of them worked!  Quickly the weather was changing and drops of rain and wind encouraged the process.  I was impressed with the quickness and felt good to preserve this seemingly effortless study.  Both paintings measure 20 x 24, and were painted in a 30 minute time frame!  Wow!  I came home with two field studies that day in November and felt that I had captured the area in a way that I hadn’t done before.  Some of the canvas in both paintings remains uncovered – causing a wonderful vibration of texture, color and temperature.


With this said, the question arises “Are these two works, done so quickly, viable paintings?” I look forward to answering that question in my next post.