Start Some Starts


Start Some Starts Notes

Lately I’ve been thinking about doing some start paintings again. A start is much more complex than a block-in. I travel quite a bit and have opportunities for short spurts of painting time. I might have half an hour somewhere or an hour to paint in a beautiful place. There is a sense of urgency about my timing. I used to rush through these painting times, trying to get as much of the painting completed as possible, from start to finish. These paintings were frankly very rough and unrefined, lacking in my opinion. Only a study. I wanted to find a way to do good work of these beautiful locations rather than rough studies.

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I finally came up with the idea of doing partial paintings and saving them until I get home to complete in the studio. This method takes all of the stress away and allows me to proceed through the painting experience with a critical discerning eye.

I think I will do some start paintings on Deer Woods Trail, now that the climate is cooler.

Start some starts

My system for start paintings includes basic information of composition,value structure and local color application. That is really all I need to complete the painting at a later time in studio. To me this is the best marriage of plein air and studio painting.

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To supplement this basic painting I will add some notes which include tube colors I need to use for the painting, value notes, lighting for the scene, including time of day, angle and direction of light, and any interesting atmospheric conditions. If I have a camera with me, I will shoot a few reference photos as well, but the notes and palette information are even more useful.

Start some starts

I don’t worry overmuch about putting any detail in my starts. They are completed only far along enough to give me the information I need back in the studio.

There are many advantages to this system and I often use starts even on my own land.  You can complete many more good paintings, You will have better paintings because you are not rushing through the painting process and will be able to do larger format work successfully, rather than tiny studies.

Unless you are just obsessed about working alla prima plein air, this is a very useful system.

Start some starts

It will also work very well for students who are coming to studio classes for a critique with your teacher. My students sometimes bring in  photos they paint from with their starts. We are able to look at the paintings and the reference photos, correcting composition and values, etc. before they continue with the paintings. This is a wonderful way to engage them in the process. I sometimes  ask them which paintings they think are most successful and which Are not? After they choose, we go through the process of analysis to determine how and why?


Today’s Recipe:

1 cantaloupe peeled seeded and diced
1 small pineapple pealed and diced
1 sweet red pepper seeded and diced
1 small onion dice
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Hot sauce to taste
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix it all up and serve with chips. Yummy!!!

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