“Steamboat Study 1” in Plein Air

“Steamboat Study 1” (sold)
8″ x 6″
oil on panel
©2011 Tracy Wall

Two weekends ago, I delightfully “got out of Dodge” and escaped for a little mini-vacation.  Sort of.

It was a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so many had Monday off.  My usual Monday clients were out of town and I had nothing on the books for Saturday and Sunday, so I decided to follow suit.  A friend had suggested taking a road trip a while back, and when that fell through I was disappointed (for many reasons).  I often don’t plan last minute getaways.  but as long as I had the ‘off’ time, I might as well take advantage of it.

I spent the weekend in a small mountain community of Steamboat Springs.  A few hours NW of Denver, Steamboat is nestled in the Rocky Mountains about 40 miles from the Wyoming border.  A mountain ski-town, Steamboat is far less glitzy than other ski meccas and seems a little more laid-back with a strong cowboy culture in ranching.

Although a terrific break for a number of reasons, one thing I wanted to accomplish was break out of my painting rut.  I’ve been doing fruits and veggies in studio paintings for a while (I still have more coming up), but I wanted to again try my hand at ‘plein air’ painting.  ‘Plein air’ is French for “open air” and refers to painting outdoors, a practice that became popular in the mid-19th century with impressionist painting.

“Lead by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edouard Degas, Auguste Renoir, et. al. the impressionists espoused the belief that you should trust your eyes. Using newly developed theories of how the eye physically registers color, they maintained that what you saw in nature was not form, but rather light on form. And light could be conveyed by color. To prove their theories, …… they re-created the world as colors that suggest light. Rebuffed at first for what appeared to be unfinished paintings, the impressionist vision soon became a standard for truthfully conveying the outdoor experience. ”  From Plein-Air Painters of America

This is my first outdoor plein-air attempt in many months. Here I’m in a thick forested area with a sunlit meadow through the trees.

Painting ‘en plein air’ is a different production process for me.  Because the light changes so quickly, it’s necessary to make painting decisions quickly. I felt pretty rusty on this one; I’ll show more in future posts.

In the meantime, tell me: do you get away to recharge or relax?

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About Tracy Wall

I'm an artist and massage therapist living in Denver, Colorado.
This entry was posted in Art, Colorado, Creative Process, Landscape, My Art, Painting, Quotes, Trail and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “Steamboat Study 1” in Plein Air

  1. lizamyers says:

    Tracy this made me SMILE with recognition and delight when I saw it. Thanks for capturing and sharing a Colorado mountain moment with the magical bright light flickering on an aspen aspen grove.
    Beautifully done!

  2. Tracy says:

    Thanks Liza!
    I, too, love the mottled sunlight seeping in between the leaves of a thick forest. I’m glad this comes alive for you. Thanks!

  3. Pattie says:

    So many fond memories and fun in Steamboat and that area for me, so great that you gotta outta Dodge – your plein air piece reminds me of a magical place. Love the colors and the looseness with which you painted it!

  4. Pattie says:

    that’s ‘got outta Dodge’ – so much for proofreading…

  5. Tracy says:

    Thanks Pattie.
    As you know, painting outside spurs you along to paint a little faster, thus the looseness. I like it too!
    And yes, Steamboat is a fun place!

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