“I paint what I believe in.”
Los Gatos artist, David Stonesifer gave a wonderful talk about his approach to plein air painting and it’s role in the California art scene as part of the Brown Bag Lunch series at the Triton Museum of Art. He shared lots of great painting tips and his infectious passion for the immediacy and vibrancy of the genre!
Plein air is painting that is done on the spot, outside in all kinds of weather. You have to be quick and skilled to get down your response to what you see before the light and shadows change and David Stonesifer gave us all kinds of advice he’s gleaned from great teachers and years of “brush milage” in the field. One was, “Don’t chase the shadows!” -paint those in first if that’s where your interest lies – get that down quick!
David Stonesifer spoke of Oakland’s Society of Six – a plein air group that I need to study up on! One of them had said of his work, “I have nothing to say, but much to express”. Such a lovely way of summing up the plein air experience, which has historically (pre-camera) been about capturing the scene as a study for the larger “real” painting that would be done in the studio later. These “studies” have come to be highly valued in their own right for the freedom and immediacy that the studio work often lacks. That’s what Stonesifer loves being out there with his subject and painting it as se sees it and feels it.
We were even treated to a comparison of a Saratoga orchard painting from 1925 by Theodore Wores (from the Triton’s permanent collection) to one of Stonesifer’s from last week in nearly the same spot!
David Stonesifer shared with us a number of paintings showing different weather and times of the year.
I’m delighted to have several of Davis Stonesifer’s paintings in my personal collection, Navakavich Orchard, Saratoga (above) and Saratoga Barn (below). I adore them, beyond their beauty and subject matter, for the skillfully free manner in which their painted.
One of the tips David Stonesifer shared with us is to block in a thin, general underpainting using the complementary color of what you see. When the underpainting peaks through the final brushstrokes it adds a vibrant intensity. You can see in this illustrated in the painting above where he’s used pink and peach under the sky and mountains and aqua and periwinkle under the meadow.
There was certainly a lot of interest in this well attended lecture!
I case you’d like to see more of his work, you can visit his website or his upcoming open studio Saturday & Sunday, May 7 & 8 from 10am – 5pm at 18000 Overlook Road, Los Gatos, an event not to be missed!