Comments on Contemporary Plein Air

Some thoughts on the view and the end result.
When I look at works posted I really don't see the painting so much as feel the connection to the place, the day and how I felt. Obviously, I don't subscribe to a traditional view of landscape. All the things plein air painters say about "catching the light, capturing the moment" that is pretty-much right on as it refers to the painting itself, but if the painting is to be a success for me, I have to feel the day in it- not just get an indication of the light.
Which leads to the subject of design in a painting. This came up twice recently: Alec Cooke and I talked about it in the car driving to the Buena Vista Show and that evening during the Q&A time someone asked if, as plein air painters, we paint the scene as it appears in front of us, or rearrange elements for the sake of the design?
Good Question?
If documentation is the goal- go with a photo. In fact, I document most of the scenes I paint with a photo. I don't consider this photography - only documentation. The need to show the scene 'as it is/was', sort of negates the need for and artist. I think of it like - watching a ballgame on TV with no sound or friends around you, - as opposed to hearing the play-by-play over the radio with no visual around you. They don't call it 'color' commentating for nothing.

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