Most artists who attempt plein air work for the first time get overwhelmed while trying to manage nature’s infinite complexity.
If they persist in finishing their sketch or painting, the initial inspiration almost always gets buried in detail.
…and whatever potential they saw in the observed angle gets lost in a gray haze.
The key to interesting plein air work isn’t detail, it’s decisiveness…
It’s the intent of a simple, dark-light value design that offers variety through the general divisions of space across the canvas.
Edge control is also significant.
…and, of course, the color palette.
Detail is expendable.
Although it’s tempting to rush the problem and fight the overwhelm with brute-force rendering, resist.
Don’t collect details on your canvas, combine them into dark or light forms and compose those forms so they divide the canvas in the clearest and most interesting way possible.
This kind of simplicity requires a level of focus that can test the patience of even the most committed plein air artist.
…but the ironic reality is that impatience with the process almost always leads to overworked art.
The less patient you are, the harder you’ll work.
…and take all the time you need to decide.