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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monet's beliefs on Outdoor Painting, Plein Air

Today I came across a statement I read from "Monet A Retrospective" book: 'Monet was drawn to realize that the three principal elements in daylight as against light in a studio or within a room are - intensity, diffusion and mobility. Monet learned his expansive style from Courbet, the vigorous strokes of spacious brushwork. It solved the problem of movement as Monet saw it could be painted with speed.'

I have read the above 381 page book 2-3 times over. I love Monet. Those words above are a small part of the book that are ingrained in my brain, I feel it is of utmost importance to capture the light effects outdoors when painting. Paint as much as you can outdoors, do work studies, sketches and compliment them with digital images with the highest quality SLR camera to capture true colors and lighting. Take notes on where the light is coming from, what colors you see, time of day, your feelings in prose... Otherwise your studio paintings will look like they are painted from a photo without feeling. The problem with even the best cameras are incorrect intensity of color, diffusion of light and dark shadows, plus the mobility of nature. You will see a red-orange cliff outside in the sunset, but the camera takes a yellow orche hue of that cliff. You will see soft shadows across the sands and the camera makes them highly contrasted. The wind blows a gentle breeze through the trees and you capture a static pose. I even take a small video recorder with me to capture a cinema look including mobility to compare at home with what I saw on sight.
So, when you want to start a series of larger paintings based on a certain area, or just one painting in your studio, think how much better you will feel when you have all that outdoor knowledge of the area with your little workstudies, sketches, notes and digital images by your side. I still prefer to get as much as possible done on location. It is a pursuit of TRUTH to me. Then, when I go to make that large painting on a canvas that I can not take outdoors, I feel like I am staying truthful to the location's essence and will succeed in capturing it LARGE.

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