During the construction of my LA home, I dedicated a room to serve as a painting studio. This space was filled with abundant natural light from the west and north, thanks to two large windows. I employed various materials to control the light and matched the overhead lighting with the daylight balance. I also incorporated a few warm lights to document my work, creating a 24-hour workspace with a consistently maintained color temperature and barely perceptible shifts in brightness. This unique environment has been showcased in videos and images shared over the past couple of years, with the captured scenes appearing identical, irrespective of the time of day. While this may sound ideal, I have some reservations.
Firstly, I had to sacrifice a bedroom in my home for other purposes, resulting in a less visually appealing hybrid space that serves as an office, photo equipment storage, and guest bedroom, all while retaining a lingering scent of oil paint. I am aware of the issue and actively working to improve it. Additionally, I discovered that having a "pristine" painting environment inadvertently led to procrastination, as the consistent temperature, light, and ambiance enabled me to make incremental progress on a single painting over days or even months. Although this granted me endless working time, it turned into a genuine problem. So, what should I do next?
A while ago, I began searching for a studio space on Washington, in Culver City. During this process, I realized that I was attempting to replicate my home studio, only this time at the cost of thousands of dollars per month. A larger space would be the only noticeable difference, as I sought similar lighting and functionality features. Apart from the advantage of presenting work to potential patrons, this approach seemed redundant and would likely result in a similar environment to my current home studio, albeit with a 10-minute commute.
As I explore new creative projects, perhaps a different approach is necessary. One that challenges me to make bolder decisions and work at a faster pace. Maybe I should consider a space that limits my working time, encouraging me to let go of over-analyzing every brushstroke and tool movement, ultimately allowing for greater artistic freedom and growth.
En plein air
Maybe ...?? First, what is it:
En plein air, a French term meaning "in the open air," is a method of painting or drawing outdoors, directly from life. This practice has been popular among artists since the late 19th century, particularly with the Impressionist movement. Modern artists who choose to work en plein air can experience numerous benefits. But wait ...I don't paint landscapes. So far here are a few things I have learned:
Improved spontaneity: The ever-changing conditions of the outdoors, such as shifting light and weather, forces me to work quickly and make decisions more instinctively. This can lead to a looser, more expressive style.
Unique challenges: The unpredictable elements of nature and the need to adapt to various conditions can help artists develop problem-solving skills and resilience. And we all know weather in LA has been anything but predictable this year.
Well-being benefits: Engaging with time outdoors has been terrific on my mental and physical health. It may actually contribute to increased creativity and productivity.
Diversifying artistic practice: Incorporating en plein air painting into my repertoire may expand my skill set, making me more versatile and opening up new creative avenues.
I am sure you are curious how I do such large pieces outside ...I don’t travel with them, like a traditional landscape painter. Instead, I took a piece of open space in my back yard and anchored it with a 9x12 shed. I use this to store paint and supples, and rely on walls to the adjacent shop for horizontal work. I can work on a saw horse/2x4 table set up, for vertical work. Since I paint on shop made rigid panel systems, as pictured above, that makes position versatility possible. If I only worked on pre stretched canvas, it would be possible horizontally but no so much vertically.
In the end, the light is great. Sure, it can be harsh, with hard shadows at times, but it is true in color rendition. It can be obnoxiously bright. However, this allows another sense of color that I have never experienced. So far I am enjoying the practice. It has its challenges with the rain in LA this year. Leave it to me to pick a 50 year weather change to be the time I venture out of the studio.
In the future, when there are more works to show, I will be doing pop up spaces in the Culver City area of Los Angeles. But that's for customers and cool photos. It 'aint got anything to do with creation or creativity. As I am back in the paint again, I will show more of the space as I share my progress.