The Er-i-e was a risin’

The Gasport lift bridge, 6X8, oil on canvasboard.
People frequently ask me if I ever work from photographs. Of course, since the winters in Rochester are long and cold. However, I almost never paint things from photographs that I haven’t investigated thoroughly in the field. Photographs really don’t interest me as a painting source.
Erie Canal at Gasport, 6X8, oil on canvasboard.
Photographs, of course, lie (or they wouldn’t be an art form). They change proportions, light, and color. Working from my own sketches gives me more reliable information about the atmospheric conditions, the angles, and—most importantly—the relative weight of things.
Erie Canal Bridge, 11X14, oil on canvasboard.
I spent yesterday flipping through and organizing field sketches in advance of Friday’s un-sale, and I noticed the many preparatory sketches I made for my painting, Low Bridge (Erie Canal at Gasport).

Erie Canal bridge, 6X8, oil on canvas
I was driving back and forth to Gasport at least once a week at the time. It was easy enough to keep my kit in my car and pull it out somewhere to paint for an hour. To me, these sketches are almost more interesting than the final painting (which I like very much). Their immediacy is what plein air painting is all about.
Towpath, 6X8, oil on canvasboard
I can almost always tell you something about the day on which I painted a plein air field sketch—who I was with, what the weather did, what odd thing happened—but I can almost never tell you things like that about studio paintings. (The exception, of course, being figure sessions.)
These field sketches are included in my Black Friday un-sale (details here).
The finished painting, Low Bridge (Erie Canal at Gasport) 40X30, Carol L. Douglas

I will be teaching in Acadia National Park next August. Message me if you want information about the coming year’s classes or this workshop.