Foggy Morning on the River – Maysville Kentucky Plein Air

Plein Air Painting by Ken Swinson

 

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Original Oil plein Air Painting By Ken Swinson

8″ x 18″ oil on canvas framed in black float frame.

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Painted on location 16 September 2020
The weather is finally cooling down. That means it’s time to get the paints out and do some plein air painting!

Some artist friends and I (8 of us) decided to meet at the river park in Aberdeen, Ohio, to paint from life. Since we’ve had a sudden drop in temperature, the cool air hitting the warm river water caused a lot of fog.

foggy river view of Maysville Kentucky from Aberdeen park in Ohio
photo of fog lifting–after an hour of painting!

I’m used to using the directional light from the sun to make colors and shapes look good in a painting. Fog diffuses all that light, and mutes the colors of the landscape…making painting from life a bigger challenge for me.

photo of artist painting landscape from the ohio river

Every now and then, I have been broadcasting LIVE videos on facebook, while i make art. With this scene being such a challenge, i thought i’d try to tackle it with an audience watching the struggle.

During the live demo, I decided to challenge myself, and use a limited palette. A palette that does not include the color BLUE. My goal was to demonstrate that the color choices aren’t as important as values (dark and light). To my eye, a foggy morning scene has LOTS of blue in nature, so painting from life without using blue would be tricky…but if i am careful about my values, it should still look ‘right’

palette with titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone violet, viridian and grey
palette with titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone violet, viridian and grey – no blue

Another challenge of painting ‘plein air’ (from life) is that the sun moves, and the scene is always changing. Towards the end of the painting, all the beautiful fog has disappeared!

plein air painting of maysville kentucky by the ohio river from aberdeen park ohio

In addition to the challenges of the limited palette, fog, and a changing landscape; it was the first time I had ever seen many of my artist friends in person since the pandemic started in March…so there was some long overdue socializing as well.

In spite of all that, i’m happy with the finished painting. I learned a lot about fog and color theory…and captured a memory of a really fun day!

3 happy artists holding their paintings and waving