Tania Nault, Reflections on Loch Leven. Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches.
I just mailed my application for an Art in the Parks 2017 Residency at Cypress Hills InterProvincial Park this summer!
In August last summer, my husband and I went to the Cypress Hills for the annual Saskatchewan Summer Star Party and during the day I went out to paint en plein air in the Park. I would love the opportunity to spend a dedicated block of time painting in the Park, so wish me luck!
Foothills in Winter. Oil on canvas 6 x 12 inches. © 2016, Tania Nault.
I just finished a thoroughly enjoyable two-day landscape painting workshop taught by artist Doug Swinton. Doug is from Calgary, Alberta and has spent years sketching and painting Alberta’s foothills region and the Canadian Rockies. His connection to the outdoors is evident in both his work and in his instruction.
Doug’s approach at the start of each painting is to take a few moments to consider five core elements and incorporate these elements into a quick sketch in paint directly on the canvas:
- Motive: What are you trying to say?
- Center of interest: In relationship to the foreground, mid-ground, and background, what is your center of interest and does it help to communicate your motive?
- Value: Block your scene into large, medium, and small blocks of light and shadow.
- Direction of light: Take note of where the highlights and deepest shadows fall.
- Colour temperature: Is the colour in your blocks of light and shadow warm or cool?
But after these few moments of calm, Doug’s personal painting style is very physical: He seems to “attack” areas of the canvas with bold strokes of thick paint. And as we painted, he continually urged us to move more quickly to capture the moment and overall scene.
It’s hard to condense such a fun, informative, intense workshop into one blog post, but here are a few “Doug-isms” from the weekend:
- “the most amount of information in the least amount of brushstrokes”
- “value does all the work; colour gets all the credit”
- when asked about what variety of tree he was painting in his demo, “be curious, sure, but don’t get bogged down with details; unless you’re a botanical artist, all trees are either ‘pointy trees’ or ‘bouffante trees'”
I think Doug’s points about moving quickly to capture the scene and not getting bogged down with the details are the most relevant to me personally at this stage of my development as a painter – and will likely be the hardest for me to incorporate into my work (because I love research and all it’s delicious tangents!).
Tania Nault, Plein air painting at Loch Leven. Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches.
Remember to carry your artist business cards with you at all times. You know, just in case Premier Brad Wall and his wife, Tami, walk by as you’re painting and admire your work (!!!).
Tania Nault, Sunset Over Bald Butte. Oil on panel, 6 x 12 inches.
I’m in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park this week for the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party. On Tuesday, I decided to head out in the morning across the Gap Drive over to the West Block and on my way back stopped at both Bald Butte and Lookout Point. It was late afternoon by the time I hit Lookout Point, so I decided to set up and paint en plein air. I painted one “afternoon view” and then, when the light started to change towards sunset, set up to paint the second painting you see above.
The Point is a popular place to watch the sunset and I had several people stop to take a look and ask questions as I painted. I find that when the work is going well, as it was yesterday, it’s a lot easier to talk to people as I paint 🙂
The painting is on canvas (I usually paint on panel) that I had primed with Winsor & Newton’s oil painting primer (I usually paint on acrylic gesso). It took a bit to get used to how the paint went down on the slicker surface, but I must say I prefer how the oil paint looks on the oil primed surface.