Thursday, May 14, 2009

Painting outdoors

On location at Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, Langkawi, 2006

The French have an expression, en plein air which means "in the open air" that describes the act of painting outdoors.

Many of the Impressionist artists in mid-19th century painted under natural light because they wanted to study the effects of light and capture the fleeting scene.

Several developments in the art scene at that time facilitated this trend greatly. One was the introduction of tube paints which meant that ready-made paints were available to be carried around. Previously, each artist would have to grind up pigment powders in bowls and make them into paint mixtures before using them.

The second development that made plein air painting more popular was the invention of the French Box Easel which was essentially a portable box the size of a briefcase that opened up into a proper easel, complete with paintbox and palette.

Plein air painting poses a whole new challenge to me. I have to work fast, so much so that the final product looks "unfinished" due to the rough and loose strokes and patches of colour.

I suppose this is the "controversy" that Monet's paintings brought about among his peers who, at the time, painted in their studios and whose "traditional" works were very detailed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The road begins here

I am off on a road journey tomorrow for a working tour with friend and fellow artist, Suhaimi aka Mie Pak Lah. We both hope to do lots of traveling and live painting in the outdoors, documenting the scenery, the atmosphere and the spirit of the east coast of Malaysia.

The plan is to leave Kuala Lumpur and cut across central Malaysia and head for the coast, covering Kuantan, Beserah, Cherating, Kijal, Kemaman, Dungun, Kuala Terengganu, Pulau Duyung, Kuala Besut and Pulau Perhentian...but not necessarily in that order.

I'm very excited about this road trip we are taking. We're bundling up our art tools and equipment -- lots of paper, some canvas, watercolours, acrylics, charcoals, brushes, etc. -- and stuffing everything into the back of my Benz station wagon.

It will be classic! Just two artists, the open road, the sea, our canvas and paints. It's like Monet and gang in the Impressionist period!

Wish us luck!