I managed to get out and painting a couple of times over the Easter long weekend.

My first plein air piece was a super-fast oil sketch of a karri tree nestled in a jarrah grove. I’ve noticed this spot several times in my travels and there was just enough room to park the car off the road and to set up the easel safely.

It was late afternoon, the light disappeared quickly and I only had about 15 minutes of painting time. Things didn’t go exactly to plan but I did get the major idea worked out. I messed with it back in the studio and got this…

(Karri by a fence. Plein air sketch. 25x30cm oil on board. © Andy Dolphin)

I don’t usually use a palette knife for painting but I decided to give it a go here as I had nothing much to lose and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m pretty pleased with the result.

On Monday I took a drive around Mt Lindesay, near Denmark. I’d hoped to find an interesting view of the mountain but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I ended up on Scotsdale Road, an amazingly picturesque scenic drive, and saw some grazing cows silhouetted against the evening light streaking across a distant paddock.

I knew I faced two main problems if I was going to do a painting here.

  1. The cows wouldn’t hang around forever.
  2. The sun wouldn’t hang around forever either.

To help alleviate both problems, and to see if I could find the interesting shapes, I knocked out a quick thumbnail sketch.

I worked on the painting for about 40 minutes before the sun set.

 (Scotsdale cattle. Plein air sketch. 25x30cm oil on board. © Andy Dolphin)

It was a bit of a battle because we’ve had some good autumn rain and the paddocks have all turned electric green. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in not being a fan of green in paintings. Note, however, that there was no green pigment on my palette. All greens were mixed from combinations of cerulean, ultramarine, cad yellows and crimson. That’s one way of dealing with the green demon.

This one had very little done to it in the studio and I think I’ve got enough here to help develop a larger painting in the future.