En plein air

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170405a Plein Air (2017) oil on canvas 36 x 44.8cm

Tried painting outside, “en plein air”. Thought it would be great: much better light, more space, fresh air. Not the case. Blustery winds enough to shake the easel, dappled light through trees – couldn’t wait to get back in!

At first I thought 170405a Plein Air looked like one of the “primordial soup” pictures I made last year when I first started painting. Looking at it now, I can see my painting has changed in some ways: a more interesting sense of space and layering, and (I think) better composition of the image, in that it doesn’t send the eye flying off one edge or get stuck in a corner.

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170405b Pickpocket (2017) oil on canvas 81.4 x 58.9cm

Later, painted 170405b Pickpocket, just to keep painting. I like the space, the black sun sitting on the high horizon line compositionally so close to the figure’s head, the sharpness of the hand/spike, the sense of movement at the bottom of the picture, the way the brushstrokes in the white space around the figure almost represents the air or energy moving around him (sounds wanky, but makes sense in my head). The influence of Dana Schutz (circa. 2003) is still evident, but who cares, that won’t last forever.

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170405c Sea Storm Night (2017) oil on canvas 61 x 95cm

Finally getting into the habit of making fairly large paintings quickly, the same as I would small ones. It’s the only way for me to improve. Caution and anxiety usually make my brushwork fussy and dull, and the forms brittle. Better to have fun with it.

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