My first ever (mostly) outdoor painting

“Green Bay”, acrylic on canvas, 24×18″

I started this back in January or February, before the first New Zealand lockdown. It’s a view from our deck, overlooking our neighbour’s house, in Green Bay, minus a few distracting details (other houses and powerlines, etc.) If the proportions don’t quite seem to match a 24×18 canvas, it’s because the sides of the canvas weren’t totally vertical in the photo I took, so I cropped the sides of the image.

I really wanted to try an outdoor (aka plein air) painting, but I kinda bit off more than I could chew with this one. There was so much detail, and so many different kinds of trees. Not to mention the challenge of trying to capture colours while the light was changing!

I got off to a good start with the underpainting and the sky (probably my favourite part of the painting). I also liked how I managed to indicate the trees with a variety of brushstrokes in the background. But then when I got closer to the foreground—the roof of the house in particular—things got much harder.

I came back to the painting multiple times, trying to solve various technical issues (mostly related to linear and atmospheric perspective, and colour mixing). Often frustrated, I set it aside for long stretches. And, after a couple of outdoor sessions, I worked on it in the garage, using a photo as a reference.

I decided today I didn’t want go into the new year with it unfinished, so I spent a few hours on it, and there it is.

You could argue that it’s still not finished. (There are many things I could fix or improve—or make worse.) But I’m over it! I want to move onto something else.

I was going to go into some of the finer details of what I like and don’t like about it, but it’s probably fairly obvious where the strengths and weaknesses of the painting are.

Although there are many issues with it, I’m really pleased to have finished it. It was a difficult undertaking, but I stuck with it and learnt a lot doing it.

2 thoughts on “My first ever (mostly) outdoor painting

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