I did my first plein air grey scale painting test, in my sketchbook.
I did two pages in my sketchbook. I think it may have been beneficial to do some charcoal drawings of the landscape to warm up, instead of going straight in with painting. I’ll do that next time.

After each painting I had thoughts on what I was doing, which I wrote in my phone. I am copying and pasting the notes here to record them properly:


What am I painting in grey scale?
I have been describing my experience by looking at the forms I see and paying attention to how I experience it. Letting parts of the landscape come to my attention to do this process.

The forms that jump out to me are sometimes not physical things in the landscape e.g. trees or bushes or buildings or the sky, but light hitting these objects.

So I am noticing my experience of light as well, and painting it.

How much does the sounds I hear, the weather, my comfort whilst I am painting affect this?
Painting outside now I am listening to a BBC 3 classical fix podcast, I am feeling certain emotions, I am in a certain mood, at a certain point in my cycle. These things affect my experience of forms external to me [or should I say, these things are what make the painted experience so time and location specific]. These things also affect which visual observations, which forms in the landscape, jump out to me.

My plein air painting process is specific to me and the landscape at this particular time. Neither me nor the landscape will ever or have ever been this way before. I have never been in the landscape, the woodland, at this point in time before, when the landscape is as it is, and I am as I am.

I am acknowledging this here.


The imagery that comes to mind as I put this text in this blog post is a needle. In which the painting and the experience come to an exact point, a pin point, and that is what the painting is recording. Lots of these little pin points in time, when inner and outer experience at a specific and never again to happen point in time, come together at a point on the canvas.

This is what I wrote after I did the second painting:


Being less precious about my painting.
Experience recorded through a broader spectrum of gesture! – more gentle and more harsh at both ends of the mark making spectrum.

In retrospect I realise I painted this second painting with no worry about ruining the painting or producing a greyscale painting that doesn’t represent the what I could see when I painted it. Even the tonal values in the painting don’t describe the tonal values of the view very accurately. Instead I was using tone and gesture to record my experience of what I was seeing – these paintings are ‘tipping the balance’ between recording inner subjectivity and objective recording (of what I see?), towards inner subjectivity.
I have photographed the scene from all angles as I stand here, and will maybe use these photographs when glazing this painting back in the studio.
The glazing will become important here because it will represent me defining what I see / saw far more than what I was painting when I was actually out in the landscape!


That last paragraph makes an interesting point! That I am trying to achieve light, colour and atmosphere accuracy when I am back in the studio. We’ll see how that goes…

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