The Oregon summer is a great time to get outside and paint or draw. Sometimes I will bring the whole kit and other times I will just grab a sketchbook. No matter the materials you bring a lot of the pleasure comes from taking the time to sit and look at the scene in front of you. Of course I enjoy the day but I also have a mission. To see the scene as an artist. That means to find a composition, values and color harmonies. In other words all the things we need a make picture. Recently I have added a new component to my observation list. I call it “the hook”. This is what attracts me to the scene in the first place. The shadows of trees on the grass, the color of the sunset, the composition of buildings on a street. The goal is to positively identify what attracts me to paint in the first place. Once I conclude the main motivation of a scene I need to remember it as I work and not let less important parts overshadow this. Sometimes this choice is obvious, other times it is not so much. Either way I get more satisfaction from my painting if I keep a strong theme in mind and the first step in to identify it.
Here is a neat article on plein aire painting