An Online Artist's Coop for Artists who Paint on Location
The undeniable strength of Plein Air being realist or figurative rather than abstract or non-figurative art is obviously the paint in ‘front of the subject’ power it gives the communication rather than no interface with subject at all. Plein air thus fosters and relies on nurturing the expertise we value enormously for capturing truer subject integrity by virtue of being at the subject, seeing it honestly building abilities and the craft of painting for a far more truthful portrayal; draftsmanship, perspective, colour, tonal relationships, deft handling required of limited time at subject, for some; confidently conveying the alla prima wet into wet look, many things including also the essential personal unique vision that only being there can avail us; creativeness inspired by being personally involved. But why make composition subservient to all the attributes we admire and rightly follow as plein air artists, when it should be just as, even more utilised in plein air work as in any picture making. Plein air’s strength can also be its weakness – if not careful a complete homage to it; striving to depict the subject truthfully can sabotage good composition, the most important ingredient of great painting.
Composition the ‘lifeblood’ of painting - seeing the abstract pattern before us to hang the subject on, creating, changing the work to reinforce not detract from the communication using all the elements of painting design, are undeniably the highest objective for great picture making. I am not denying the great traits we value and love of plein air to assist better realist picture making, but we should be more aware of integrating and not neglecting good composition into the on-site work and especially admire good plein air composition because of its increased challenges over studio work. Many place over emphasis on the craft of depiction or having the forte of seeing the subject for realistic beautiful rendition or portrayal. But it’s a balance for equally undeniable is the paramount importance of good composition in any painting for no matter how well you paint and portray your subject, if any picture is poorly composed it more than anything else destroys the effort and spoils the communication. At the cornerstone of being an artist is the objective first of producing great pictures; this requires changing, exaggerating, pattern making within a border, this is what painting is about. Because of the inevitable attributes of plein air as opposed say of studio work; constraints placed by short time at subject, the over valuing of painting technique in depicting and seeking deft handling expertise, emphasis of these effects many a time is at the expense of good composition which is far more essential ingredient to great picture making. My point is great picture making is like painting itself, it’s a tension, a balance, between achieving plein air subject truthfulness without being a slave to it which almost always detracts and destroys good picture making; the art of reinforcing the quality and portrayal of the subject, not excluding or detracting from it by destroying the communication to onlooker with poor composition.