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Finally!!!!  I painted this totally outdoors. It is a scene to the west of the property where I have been painting, outdoors. I have followed Stephen, Frank, Keith, and Chris (all who paint beautiful watercolors outdoors) for quite some time, now. They initially inspired me to keep trying this outdoor approach. I can honestly say I completed this outdoors. It took me two visits, however. I am so slow.

I have been watching this meadow change over the summer. I was immediately drawn to the wildness of it.  Six weeks ago it was covered in Queen Anne’s Lace and I wish, now, I had captured that. When I came out Labor Day, I had to try and paint the scene due to the fact that it dazzled with a pinkish-purple flower. I have since spent time on the internet and found that the flower is called Ironweed. Al would be so pleased. His postings have taught me to be more observant when I spend time outdoors. There were butterflies and hummingbirds feasting off these flowers and the whole field seemed to dazzle with light and activity. A deer even ran through while I was sitting there. Yes, my friend the hawk was circling once again. 🙂   The tree line was beginning to throw off warm casts of color and one large tree poked up all spindly having already dropped most of its topmost leaves.

I took time to snap pictures of the painting’s progress for you below:

The first step was to lightly pencil in the treeline and two buildings ( had to include the basketball backboard as it is VERY Indiana). I splattered some frisket  for texture as well as to include white dots for the few remaining Queen Anne’s Lace. I then applied light washes of color to the meadow area to define the shadowed area and the part that sat in bright sunlight. I defined the buildings wet-in wet and dotted in the golden rod I saw on the far northern edge leading out from the house.

Continued on to the left with the treeline attempting to get the shapes and color down. I also decided to define the Ironweed in the foreground in the hopes that it would assist with depth. This was what I had done on the first day I worked this painting.

When I returned, I knew I had to define the foreground meadow a little more so I tried to read the strips of yellow and green that I saw running through it. I splattered more of the purple-pink colors of the Ironweed and deepened the shadows. I completed the treeline.  At this point I sat and examined the painting at a distance.  I decided I was not satisfied with how it read.

  finished

I sat back down and stared at the treeline. The speckly white took away from the deep dark of the treeline that turned the meadow lights on so I scumbled water through the colors that were all ready there. This helped to deepen the shadows on them that I had observed.  The meadow had streaks of a pinkish cast throughout that followed the original patterns of the greens and yellows I had washed in earlier so I streaked those in very wet. I was careful to leave the bright light I saw leading from in front of the shed and partway down the back of the meadow. As a final touch, I added some of the butterflies I had seen while sitting there.

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46 Comments

  1. Wonderful, Leslie! Great work. I’m glad you were able to work outdoors. Again, the series showing the progression of your work is wonderful!

    • Thank-you, Kate. I remember thinking about your posts last spring where you photographed all those wildflowers in your area. I honestly think reading about them drew me to try and paint this meadow. See the gentle slope to this? That’s a hill in our area. Big contrast to what I get to see in your work! 🙂

  2. Beautiful painting! I hope no chiggers or wasp were involved with your plein air. I’ve been, there done that. Nice job!

    • Hi Ryan! Thank-you for the comment! I am sooooooo lucky painting, here. The people whose property I sit on mow their property. I did not walk through this meadow. That would require jeans and socks I’m sure! I may come out covered in burrs! There were a few bees buzzing and I anticipate that will get worse as the nughts become colder. So far, so good! 🙂

  3. Les,
    It is rare that I feel I can walk right into a painting and even more infrequent that I want to. I would love to spend time in your last two paintings!

    Color, varied texture, composition are superb.

    • Hi Nan!
      What a nice comment! High praise, indeed. The days that I spent painting both of these was that perfect weather in the high 70’s. Favorite outdoor play days! Thanks for making my day! 🙂

  4. GREAT!! I love this effort, particularly like the foreground flowers and the overall mood. It’s nice to see you taking the plunge and having great fun with it! I can tell it was an uplifting experience for you. Leslie, you live in a very beautiful place. Keep at it!!!

    • Thank-you, Frank! Outdoor paintings just have a different look. I took a picture of this scene and it looks nothing like what I saw in real life. The color is not the same and the slope doesn’t look like a slope in the photo. I really like painting outdoors. I am learning a little about my special spot in the country, also! Thanks, again!

  5. Wonderfully done, Leslie! I am yet to do a painting on location. I’ve done sketching of course, but painting is a totally different level. And you have painted it there in its entirety – amazing! Congratulations!

    It would have been a triumph just by the virtue of a complete plein air undertaking – start to finish, but to top it off the painting came out so pretty! Very impressionistic, especially the foreground field.

    • Thank-you, Alex! I’ll take that congratulations. It took some supreme effort to not play around with this painting during the week in between my second visit to finish it on site. Then to post it without touching it up after returning home! I am beginning to understand the strength behind the methods and techniques we use to create. I can not say one is better than the other. They all serve their own purpose. Thank-you. 🙂

  6. Gorgeous property. What a place to paint. This is Indiana at its best.

    • Thank-you, Linda. I have lived somewhere in Indiana most of my life and never paid it much attention. I think you have something there in saying this is Indiana at its best. I am sort of seeing this state for the gifts it has to offer and I like that. I thank you for pointing out to me, through your comment, that there is more than painting going on here.

  7. Thank you for leading through those wonderful steps, it was a great opportunity to do it completely plein air and the result is nice!You inspired me to try out a water color just like you were inspired by others!

    • I popped right over to your blog to see your watercolor and was inspired right back, Padmaja. I do believe there is something very beneficial to this sharing we do amongst our art blogs. I have opened my eyes to a lot more possibilities through others. Thank-you for this comment and for letting me know anything I had posted inspired! A true gift.

  8. love it!! 🙂

  9. Great work Leslie. I really like the way you record the progress of each painting. It’s something I’m going to start. Painting outdoors brings many other difficulties into the frame. I think you’ve produced a lovely picture and if this is your first outdoor painting, then you put me to shame. Great post. Please keep going and let me know how you get on.

    • Thank-you, Keith. I have painted outdoors ever since I started painting, about seven years ago. I just have never been totally satisfied with the results and end up finishing them at home. This one, I just “went for it” and gave it my best shot. I am not so attached from “having” to do things just from life. I see the value to all ways in which to create. One area that I would like to explore more is painting from my mind’s eye. I believe artists who paint like that are truly gifted! I will keep including plein air in my things to do.

  10. So much detail, but executed with such subtlety. And again, I enjoy watching the progress and how the meadow grew around the buildings.

    • Why, thank-you, Bbrasseaux! I remember, when I first began to watercolor, that seeing a painting develop in clips helped me quite a bit. I was hoping it might help others who paint. I, personally like that first step in this one that looks dreamlike. 🙂

  11. Hi Leslie. Oh that Ironweed plant is quite impressive ‘in person’. At least the ones here with the remains of the native tallgrass prairie manage to add visual drama to the landscape. I like that you referenced the wildlife that visited you while painting. Also–it’s interesting that another artist can be so influential in how we see the world around us—yes, Al is VERY aware of surroundings and certainly does get me also paying more attention to everything ‘outside’. Hmm. Queen Anne’s Lace–alongside Ironweed–what a combination to consider. Grins.

    • There was only a “tad” of Queen Anne’s Lace left. The field was totally full of it the end of July. Looked as though it had snowed on that meadow at that time. Perhaps I can capture that next summer! Thank-you for the comment, Eva!

  12. Nice painting Leslie! This is one of my favorites of your work because it feels like you have the right amount of technique and touch to pull this off and yet you were able to keep it light and open. I am proud that you looked the Ironweed up. It’s a beautiful and frequently tall plant that says late summer, early fall to me.

    • I was hoping you would notice that I took it upon myself to research what I had seen. I have no idea what butterflies I saw other than a Monarch. They were all colors and constant on these ironweed flowers. Thank-you for the comment, Al!

  13. I just pulled up your abandoned chair, grabbed the bottle of water you left for me, and gazed into that meadow for a long time. What a sweet scene. I can even smell it.

    You have such a gift with these plein air paintings, Leslie! It is wonderful, as Eva said, that you include the musings of the visiting wildlife. Amazing. Thanks for sharing the steps with us, too. It’s fun to watch the progression!

    • Wow! Thank-you! The fact that you could pull up a chair makes me feel good about this. I was drawn to this view from the first time I visited this place. Something about the overgrown look of it and the buildings all but overtaken by the “nature” of things. What amazes me, totally, are all the different faces of this place. ….and there is still more to do!

  14. This is beautiful and radiant! Nice job, Leslie.

    • Thank-you, Jay! I am thoroughly enjoying your landscape work, also!

  15. your lion for Richard’s challenge is beautiful, I like your color palette.
    Very interesting to see all the step by step stages of your paintings.

  16. It sounds like you had a real challenge with this one.
    Nicely done.

    • Yes. The challenge was totally set by myself on this one and that was to finish this painting strictly outside. Many thanks for the “nicely done”, Richard! 🙂

  17. I’ve yet to try en plein air, but I’ve been assured by my tutor that he will be taking me outdoors to draw architecture and landscapes, all of which scare me. I think it’s because of everything that’s going on. I can understand how it must have been a great challenge for you. I don’t envy you!

    • Hi Heather. Thank-you for taking time to visit my blog and comment. Oh, I think you will envy me when he takes you out. Just as he is carefully guiding you through skills you need to know, now, he will probably introduce you to the idea of using a viewfinder, how to divide the space of a landscape into your choice of value schemes, and how to select what shapes are most important for you to include. He has already started you down this road with everything you have studied thus far. The other thought that comes to my mind is how your brain is logging all this information to be used as you venture into that lovely abstract quality that you possess when you paint. All these values and shapes and patterns are going to make so much more sense to you for this experience!

      • Already I am seeing things completely differently since starting these classes, and it’s still early days yet. However, it is helping with my abstract studies for college, and no doubt will continue to do so. I think I’m incredibly lucky to have found someone who can teach me all of this.

      • I find it completely confusing that your art school does not introduce these very basic principles of seeing for the artist. It is like the foundation for everything else!

  18. Beautiful meadow. Reading the intro and comments explains the many details in the painting. Must have been a pleasure to watch it change over time, especially now. Always a treat to look at your work.

    • Thank-you, Adam. It is very humbling to sit out there and try and paint nature in all its beauty. I could paint it a thousand times over and probably never get it right. You are right. It is awesome to watch it change.

  19. Tops Leslie! thanks for sharing the steps in the process. I love the way you tackled this piece. Forests have so many shades and colours and you have done justice to this. And when I look at this I had the feeling that I would like to lie in the sun in the field and listen to the bees.
    Being out there is the best isn’t it?
    This is such a cool painting.

    • Thank-you, Stephen! I like that I am trying this. There is such a difference in yours and my spot in this world, yet it is somehow the same world! I had to somehow show you some of mine! If you lie down in any fields down there in South Africa, please don’t get yourself stung! 🙂 I appreciate your visits!

  20. Leslie,
    I have a hard time looking at this one !!! 😀
    Because… my brain starts spinning with the possible stories. There’s much that is spinning in the one… You made a great choice softening the white in the meadow with the pinkish color. It really lets the eye easily transition through the painting to the house. I also appreciate the multi color of the woods, especially the reddish next to the greenish blue at the lower left corner of the house. I absolutely love the butterflies captured in the front. Really good depth, makes me want to walk into it to listen and to see what is happening. Maybe I’ll get to come back to this one and see if a story gels… unfortunately I don’t have time right now.

    Thanks for sharing

    Stephen

    • Thank-you on that about softening the field with the pink. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ve helped or hindered. Your comments about the color next to the house and the addition of the butterflies also help me. Thank-you! 🙂

  21. The light shines in this painting Leslie. And congratulations for doing the whole painting outside. I know you’ve complained in the past that you feel you are too slow and hadn’t been able to complete a painting en plein air, but you persevered and finally did it.

    And what a great painting it is.

    • Yep! SLOW! I shouldn’t worry about the amount of time it takes. I think I spend more time taking it all in than others. Perhaps if I concentrate on the whole picture, first and get that down, I’ll do a little better. I am still intrigued with all I see and making decisions on what to include and what not to takes time. Thank-you, Carol!

  22. dear leslie,

    i love the lightness and brightness of this painting. it gives me a refreshing inspiration. i share your same observation in regards to artists’ instinctive behaviour to know each thing in an outdoor surrounding like holding up a magnifying lens. i think the same is true for the writers. we all need to be observant even on the minutest details. all the best to you.

    • Hi Martin!

      Thank-you so much for your comments on this. I agree with you that a writer has the same challenge of describing the scenes they witness and crafting words in such a way as to share what they see or feel. I tried writing and came up short. I have painted outdoors with others and it is a wonderful experience to view the different things we “magnify” in the same scene. Oftentimes, it appears more like a window to another’s soul.


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