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To just add to the last post a little, about “Little Trees”?  The little tree on the far left has not made it thru the heat spell. I am so glad I took time to paint the scene before this happened.  It never ceases to amaze me how many things I have painted that are no longer in existence.  I drew an image of an old ramshackle house and barn one day, in the country.  The owner allowed my friend and I to sit on her driveway and we were thankful for the opportunity. It is no longer there.  I treasure some of these images and will always wonder if my desire to record those six little trees in a row, first, was a whim. I really don’t think so.

I revisited my friends’ property to attempt a plein air painting since we finally have a couple mid 80 degree days, here. I sat under some huge pines to view and paint this scene.  The painting, above, was what I ended up with in four hours of seeing and recording. I’m SLOW, Stephen, 🙂 .  The dark strip in the lower middle is their pond. I can see I’m going to have to come up with some kind of painter’s lie in rendering this pond. It is gorgeous, however, and I’d like to capture the essence of it eventually. It is dark and mysterious and reflects glints of things surrounding it. It looks like glass, most of the time, and like you could fall forever into it. There was a light breeze and I could hear a hawk and the whispers of the pines I was sitting under.

 final painting

I jotted down notes as to how I wanted to finish the painting . The light streak on the other side of the pond is a walkway around it. The owners took me for a ride in their golf cart around the pond so I could see from all sides of the property.  What a wonderful   view of Indiana. 

Oh. I have taken photographs. It never ceases to amaze me that what I see, while painting outdoors, is so DIFFERENT than what I see in the photograph. Those of you who paint plein air know this to be true. The curve of a shore line, the color of the trees, the shape of a reflection. I am not saying one is better than the other. In fact, I think it only strengthens the view that a photographer has to be a phenomenal artist, also.  I visit Kate, “Y” , Kirsty, and Laurie on a regular basis. I like to see what they see. Oh! …and Carol just introduced me to Jimmyboi2 whose recent trip up the east coast is full of photos of architecture.

I just ran across a beautiful poem about a pond at Adam’s poetry blog here.


  1. It’s beautiful.
    And it sounds like an excellent painting experience

  2. It looks modern and expressionistic for me and it is a great approach that you have taken with this one. The reflections are so deep and real, you feel the pond there very much live! What is the color you used for the water with the reflection?
    Life is so transient and ever changing and it is important to be in each moment to get the best out of the moment, it may never come back again.. this is very evident from this post!

    • Hi Padmaja! I just got back from visiting your lovely mountains painted from memory. I’m envious of anyone who can work from memory. Thank-you for the comment. The pond is full of colors. I started with washes of Magnesium blue and Sap green. I painted a wet puddle of Aureolin into that (that bright yellow). I let that dry and went over the dark areas with mixtures of Hookers green dark and June Bug which is a green-blue staining color. Then more burnt sienna and more of the June bug. I let that dry and was not satisfied so lifted paint very carefully where I wanted reflections this side of the pond and fed wet washes of aureolin into that. A bit of some watercolor “fix-ups” but it needed it. This pond is going to be very challenging for me as dark as it is. I like what ou said about getting the best out of the moment! Thank-you! 🙂

  3. I know just what you mean Leslie. There are so many times when I’ve seen something I’d like to photograph, but if I don’t do it then and there it is never the same again. Magical moments don’t often repeat themselves. It may just simply be different light or me in a different state of mind. If I don’t take the shot when I see it, forget it.
    I love your plein air work and can really feel the difference. I believe working from a photograph reduces the painter to one instant and two dimensions. As you so beautifully describe the environment, the birds and the breeze and the quiet, all of these things become infused in the painting. I love this piece. It is like a meditation.

    • Thank-you, Kirsty! Is the idea of a photograph being in two dimensions why some things that are rounded appear flat? I have never understood that. The lens in our human eye affects what we see differently than the lens of a camera? This is probably a “no-brainer” but I had not noticed until I started painting plein air a few years back. I had only heard this to be true. I also recognise you and the other photographers as artists. I can never take a photo like all of you do. I know you think and adjust and do things I do not. I am sure you have been able to witness your growth in your photography like we do our paintings. I like that, magical moments!

      • A photograph never has the depth of information that we see with our eye, and also lenses have different perspectives. When a painting or drawing is taken from a wide angle or telephoto lens it is really obvious that it is based on a photo. Only a ‘normal’ lens sees with the same perspective as the human eye (generally this is 50mm lens on a standard slr camera). The range of colours and tones in a photo is very limited compared to what our eye sees, especially in the greens. It is a whole other world! I also think that a photo, which has already reduced the scene to two dimensions, elicits a very different response from an artist. It reduces the scene to purely visual information. Unlike plein air there are no other senses involved.

      • Thank-you so much for this information. I am going to write that down in my class information. The color thing makes total sense! I like your take about the senses. It does affect the way I work to be in a setting where I can see, hear and smell and touch all that is going on. Thank-you for taking the time to answer these questions for me.

  4. You are amazing with trees… these are so beautiful ! All these shades of green !

    • Believe me, Isabelle, greens have been my challenge as well as sky and water. So to read your comment “beautiful” does wonders for my soul. Until I learned that the greens I keep on my palette are to be added to and not used straight out of the tube and that I can incorporate greens made from blues and yellows, all my green paintings left something to be desired. I don’t think I fully understand greens, yet, but your comment will keep me trying, for sure!

  5. Thank you Leslie, for sharing your valuable coloring secret, but none of those colors are available to me here except sap green, anyway have to get a stock of them when I visit US next.
    Thank you liking my mountains, heart felt feed back makes my day 🙂

    • OK, here you go. You should have burnt sienna. I believe every brand has that. Transparent yellow is bright and yellow but a little lighter than aureolin. It is strong enough to do the job. Hookers green can be similar to Pthalo green and if you add a little of the pthalo green to prussian blue or phthalo blue you will get June bug. You should be able to find magnesium blue. It is a light blue but not as powdery looking as cerulean. You will like that color. These particular colors are American Journey name brand from Cheap Joes. I also have Winsor Newton. I think you could find close to these colors. Maybe ask at the art store. Many times, they can be of assistance. Have fun painting!

  6. Love the touch of blue in the reflections in the lake and the bright Indiana sky. Nice feeling of depth in the trees and I like the way the canopy seems to glow in spots. Beautiful painting!

    • Thank-you, Linda. I thought I better get out there and paint before the weather goes back into the 90s again. Forgot how much fun it is to paint outside.

  7. First of all, when did you have a day in the eighties? We have had nothing but 95 with 91% humidity, I’m jealous.
    Another wonderful painting, I really like the highlights on the ground, on the angled bank in the final painting. Stay Cool!

    • Sunday and Monday and it was wonderful. Now we are up to 90s again today and tomorrow. I feel for you. You have been hotter in Evansville than Florida much of the summer I think. Thanks, Ryan!

  8. I must be losing my mind. I could swear I commented here yesterday. I must not have hit the submit button. I love this painting, Leslie. I have been thinking of little pine trees lately. You have made these so perky and beautiful! That sky is wonderful! (I am still struggling with my sky on my large painting.) I love the touch of red in it. Beautiful!

    • 🙂 O’kay, I’m laughing! You did comment yesterday on “Little Trees” which is the post below this one. You told me you wanted one of those little trees for a painting you were doing and I said, “help yourself”. 🙂 Thank-you for the comment, Beth, on this one. I had to sit down last winter and just work on skies and clouds from pictures. That helped and must do the same with water, next. Many artists just swish a sky in, but there are times when the sky and clouds are what a painting is all about. Good luck with yours!

  9. I enjoy the hidden aspect of the pond. How do you confirm its there if you can’t see it? Has a lot to do with the way light plays and reflects around the trees surrounding the pond. I think the finished painting looks pretty good!

    • It’s there.It is just so dark. I really think it is the woods reflected in it. I was able to see that up close when I painted there yesterday afternoon. The surface is exactly like a mirror and I hope I can capture that in this next painting. Thank-you, Al.

  10. Nice effort, Leslie – it’s true what you said about photographs being different, that’s why I like being there! There’s something about the energy of the place that translates onto the painting, at least I’d like to believe that. It sounds a bit esoteric I know…

  11. Leslie & Kirstyfliesfree, your conversation about the difference between plein aire painting and photography has got me wondering about ‘seeing’. I consider Leslie’s point about being able to hear, smell, touch and see while painting very holistic and intergrating all experiences via her neural system. Now the odd thing I have discovered with photograhy is the complexity of details I sense when searching for an image. Especially with b&w film–I’m amazed at all the details I do not recall from memory. Every thing seems ‘highlighted’ and defined–visually. It seems to me that when painting the painter selects the ‘information’ to be included in the image they are creating. Is this accurate???

    • Absolutely correct unless the artist is into super realism where they go to extremes to record everything just as it is. You bring up an interesting point, Eva. When I first started to paint figures and then again landscapes from life, the thing that hits you is all the information that is there for the taking. I can’t do it all. I try to look for elements that I want to concentrate on. The first thing I placed is that tree and rock this side of the pond.I liked where it put the broad width of the pond. I did not change elements of this scene because it is someone’s property that they would like to see how I’d choose to render it. The topline of the woods is accurate from where I was sitting and the trees along the far bank are actually there. The artist has to decide what view might be pleasing. I tried to capture the light and the texture of what I saw that day. I’ll often make a frame with my hands and move it around looking for a scene I like before I begin to do the line drawing for the painting. Otherwise, I’d never get done. Thanks for this interesting comment. I can’t do it all in a photo, either. That’s what makes it fun to see artists’ takes on things.

      • Yes. The machine/lens of a camera does not have to make any choices–it just “captures all it sees.” Thanks for your thoughts, Leslie.

      • Thank-you for yours, Eva!

  12. Leslie, this scene is just so beautiful. It makes me want to get on a plane and visit Indiana! I love all your descriptions of being outside. I felt like I was experiencing it all with you.

    • You are welcome here, anytime! It is wonderful to be able to paint on this property. A friend of mine and I painted outdoors several years ago and we had to hunt for spots where we could pull the car on the side of the road and still have a view. Thanks for the comment. You know it is nice to stop and just listen and take in some of the things going on. Yesterday I saw the weirdest speckled moth and the turtle popped his head up quite frequently while I was there.

  13. Lovely, lots of energy and fresh color. I like the clouds that are reaching upward. You can tell that it is the middle of a humid summer.

    • I like that, “clouds reaching upwards”. Thank-you! Thank-you for saying it looks like middle of humid summer.I was hoping I caught that.

  14. Excellent color tones in the reflections, Leslie. Another beautiful painting. It’s always fun and informing to see a previous stage of your work and to read about how you progress. Also, glad to hear you’re enjoying the outdoors. Wonderful painting 🙂

    • Thank-you, Adam. I admit I need practice with this pond. It is very much like the one in your photo you paired with your poem “The Green Pool”. So it was nice to have that to link to for this post. 🙂 I sat right next to the pond the other day and hope to capture the reflections a little better in the next painting. Thanks, again!

  15. Leslie this is special – You put so much work into your trees – capturing all the shades of green, yellow and red – I admire your diligence with this and suspect that this is what makes you see so much on site that is different from a photo.
    So – I think slow is great.
    I love your description of sitting in the shade of the pines as you paint on a hot day – I hope you had a snooze at some point in the process – (o: pines make such a comforting sound.
    I like the way this has worked out – you have told me before that it is OK to start on site and finish in the studio and this illustrates the fact
    Isn’t it just so good to be out there?
    cheers hey – Stephen

    • Thank-you, Stephen, your praise of my heading outdoors means a lot. I think just as much as slow I am one of those watercolorists that Charles Reid would say plays in their paint too much. I agree with him on that, but “OH” I love to play in my paint. I come home and I prop these plein air paintings up and they speak to me, like “punch a dark in here, Leslie”, or “remember that dead tree branch that you could scratch in here?” Somehow the spontaneous begins to have a journey for me and it isn’t finished until the talking-to ends. I love painting outdoors and went out again last Monday and am dealing with another talking painting. I will go out again tomorrow as the weather has cooled some and I can enjoy this! Thank-you for your never-ending inspiration. I love your paintings and admire your skill greatly!!! Your comment is a boost for me to continue plein air.

      • I like this business of listening to the painting when you get back to studio and have been considering doing the same. I see you have been working outdoors again which is exciting and I am amazed at what you are doing.

  16. Thanks for helping me out with that, Leslie! I am NOT losing my mind…. I’m just not paying attention! hehe I love this painting! My favorite part is the hill between the path and the pond. It really is gorgeous and the little trees on that hill are wonderful!! I think it is all of the sunlight and shadows dancing on the grass! Yummy!

    • Thank-you for the feedback on the foreground area, Beth. I want to do another view from a distance in the future, so have been thumbing through landscape watercolor books and seeing how other artists handle them. This helps! I know you are not losing it. Just a little chuckle. I tend to forget things a lot these days. 🙂

  17. I haven’t done any plein air painting myself. This is for two reasons: I am not doing landscape at this time and Chicago climate allows maybe two and half days a year that are conducive to painting outside (as you may know :D). But I can relate to what you are saying from my sketching from life experience. It is nothing AT ALL like working from references. Totally different, much fresher, much more alive and much more difficult. Your greens are gorgeous!!! Thumbs up for your courage! The result is worth it!

    • Hi Alex. You must be busy getting back into the routine of things. Have been visiting your blog in hopes of a post. Thank-you for this. I am a fair-weather plein air painter. I’ll paint from life and I’ll paint from photos. I do notice a difference between the two as you seem to, also. Chicago is so windy much of the time.:) I can see spending much of my time retrieving my scott towels or re-securing my paper. Holding my board down, also. One thing I have not spent much time with is painting interiors from life. I’ve seen some nice paintings of those in the books! Perhaps we can both give that a go sometime! Thanks for the comment!

  18. Lovely 🙂

  19. This is so awesome. I wish I could paint that.

    • The fact that you are inspired to paint is going to drive you forward in your explorations, Noel. I have no doubt that you will paint like this and better! Thank-you for the comment!

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Indiana: The Pond II « Leslie White on 27 Sep 2010 at 1:06 am

    […] is a close up version of a scene I painted in July, here. This one was completed in one sitting while the other was one I started on site and finished at […]

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