Plein Aire with Cows 

Welcome back. Lets go painting!

This is our second post about Plein aire painting. Here is the first post.

Last time, we talked about Plein aire painting. This is a style done outdoors, without all the benefits of a full studio.

I went out recently to Wildcat Canyon, in Richmond. This is one of my favorite places because it is close by and free. They also have cows. I set out with the mission to paint myself some cows!

This was an attempt to do a step by step instructions, but I didn’t get the photos i wanted.  As soon as I get paint on my hands I forget to take pictures!

Here’s the process. 

Start out with a grey canvas. I make grey by combining yellow, blue, red, and white. This time I tried mixing them less, so the colors showed through. I was trying to copy a Bob Ross thing I saw. You can be the judge of whether it added anything to the finished painting.

Start with whatever is furthest away. Most the time this is the sky. I have a dedicated brush that only does sky blue. That way if you have to go back and touch up the sky you don’t end up using a muddy brush.

When you put in that city, paint it in as light as possible. All that bay area fog is between you and the subject, and it makes it look further away.

I put the grass color in with a brush. That works fine for the further away hills, but not in front. We want more texture on that close hill, because we can see more detail close up.

Here it is with the front hill done with a palate knife. This makes a more varied texture and looks like individual grass blades. Don’t use the palate knife on the further hills. Less detail back there is going to make it look far away.

All these tricks I talked about are part of atmospheric perspective. That’s the technical term for creating the illusion of distance.

That was as far as I got in the field. I took pictures of some cows, but they moved away before I could paint them. So I painted them at home. That technically is against the rules of Plein air, but who cares? Do whatever you want.

Here it is with cows. I had a lot of fun with this painting and I really like the result. This one is on a bigger canvas, and that definitely helped the end result. 

Happy painting all! See you out there.