It's been a while since I've updated this blog but I wanted to share with you my recent experience at my first ever En Plein Air competition held at Windsor castle last month. Although I have never painted En Plein Air before I entered the Windsor and Eton En Plein Air competition as it not only meant spending the day painting in such an iconic location but first prize would see my artwork join the Queen's collection.
As I had no experience painting en plein air before (and I rarely choose architecture as a subject matter) I practised a couple of quick outdoor sketches before the competition which helped me work out my approach to the painting on the day. I discovered that, just as everyone says, is a completely different experience painting outdoors verses working from reference images or still life. Aside from the obvious exposure to the elements, the main difficulty is translating the mass of information you take in from a live scene into a 2d image. Not only must the composition be carefully thought out to avoid being overwhelmed by the scene but the changing light and colour has to be sensitively observed throughout the day to create a convincing image.
I chose to paint in the Middle Ward of Windsor castle which meant I had a great downward facing view of the inner courtyard as well as the hills beyond the castle boundaries which meant interesting light and depth for my painting. It took me a few minutes to feel confident in making the first compositional marks but I managed to find my painting confidence surprisingly quickly. From then on I painted happily for the 6 hour session enjoying the interactions from passers by.
The only downside was the torrential rain which continued throughout the day making working conditions really tricky. The rain did however bring with it a really nice muted colour pallet which I enjoyed working with - every cloud...
The day culminated in an exhibition at the nearby shopping centre with prize givings in the evening. Although I didn't win the competition I was really pleased with how I painted on the day and was pleased to be told by some viewers that my work was their personal favourite.
I have posted some pics from the day below along with my artwork. Although the painting is far from finished I am tempted to leave it for now as a nice reminder of the experience and a good way of marking my progress in en plein air painting as it is definitely something I will be practising more of going forward.