Why I need plein air buddies

by Janet Bonneau in Thoughts on Oil Painting
March 13, 2012
 Above is a photo I took in Waterville, VT of the popular covered bridge which has been a favorite subject of artists for many years. 
I have taken a hiatus from blogging for a couple of months in order to spend more time painting and reading my art books. I may include a post soon on some of my favorite art books and what’s on my nightstand.
A recent painting adventure was a day-long excursion with Eric Tobin, Peter Miller, and Julie Davis. We trekked to Waterville in the morning and spent considerable time scouting out painting spots, finally deciding to paint in the field and in the road (quite literally!) near the Waterville covered bridge. 
After many struggles with my composition, I finally blocked in my masses and covered most of my 16 x 20 canvas with various values which I thought represented the light I was seeing. I wasn’t pleased with how my foreground was developing and meanwhile it was approaching midday – the light had changed too much to resolve anything.
The great thing about ‘painting buddies’ is they can offer lots of insight and help when you’re running into problems. Peter was already done his painting and walked over to see how I was doing. He graciously offered to show me ‘hands on’ what he was trying to say. He grabbed my biggest brush (always with Peter it’s “Use the biggest brushes you have!!”) and with huge sweeps of painterly virtuosity – like a maestro conducting an orchestra – proceeded to paint over my meek, tentative, overly timid, thinly painted canvas with HUGE amounts of THICK PAINT. It was beautiful to watch the scene unfold on my canvas with such expressive brush strokes and freedom of movement. This partially unfinished canvas will hang in my studio as inspiration for whenever I’m feeling hesitant to really sling paint on that surface. Thank you Peter!