Sunday, August 18, 2013


I recently spent four days painting in and around Fredericksburg, Texas. I've painted in this area many times, but I've never really just gone out on my own cruising the back roads to see what I could find. This time was different and I had a blast. I averaged four paintings a day over four days which is cranking out the work when you're just driving down the road hoping something good to paint shows up. I learned a very valuable lesson "do not search for a painting location with a preconceived idea of what you want to paint"!

I discovered if I went looking for a particular scene I never found it. On the other hand if I just drove down the road and let the scene find me, I found an abundant supply of paintable locations. I also learned that the most valuable tool a plein air painter can possess is the ability to do a u-turn on a two lane road.

With this in mind what follows are a couple of my paintings.

First up is this hillside cedar with a few yellow wildflowers in the foreground. This is on the south side of Highway 290 from Johnson City to Fredericksburg. 

This is my typical setup. I use the En Plein Air Pro easel with either a Bestbrella attached or a freestanding ShadeBuddy. If I'm near my car I will use the ShadeBuddy most times. I have my backpack hanging on the easel. I find this weighs it down and gives the easel a nice sturdy feel and it helps keep it from blowing over in the wind. 

Notice that both the panel and the palette are in shade. It is vitally important to have the surface you are painting on and the surface you are mixing paint on be in the same light. 

Here's my palette setup and it is set up the same way every time.

The initial block in. Notice I blocked in the foreground in a warm burnt sienna and the distant ground in a cooler blueish color. This helps me separate the layers right at the start of the painting.

Half way done. The major land masses are blocked in. Now I'll work toward finishing up.

 The finished painting. About an hour and half start to finish. On to the next location.

Bob Rohm

Next I met up with good friend, Bob Rohm, to paint along Cow Creek outside Marble Falls.

Painting almost completed

I chose a location in the riverbed. I liked the green maple bush against the gray river bank. It was so hot there was only time for one painting then I hit the road looking for next painting.

Completed painting #2

The third location for the day is along some road going west north of Johnson City. At this point I was lost but enjoying the drive.

Again using the ShadeBuddy for protection and shade.

This painting is mostly about the sky so I knocked in the farm scene along the bottom fairly quickly.

Completed painting number 3.

My final location of the day is this big tree along the side of Highway 16 north out of Fredericksburg. I had spotted this location on a previous trip and had logged it into my GPS. So I looked it up and drove straight to it. 

About half way done with the major masses blocked in.

The completed painting and by this point I'm exhausted, looking for BBQ and a beer to end the day.

Below are photos of a couple of other scenes that interested me but I didn't have time to stop and paint. So these will be done in the studio at some point.

Thanks for traveling with me today. If you liked this post and would enjoy more like this one, please leave me a comment.


c.dingman said...

Thanks for sharing. Wonderful paintings.

Unknown said...

This is great! I have made the mistake of having a scene in mind first more than once. I love your paintings and I really like seeing your initial blocking in. Thank you for sharing your art!

Carol DeMumbrum said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful posts! So inspiring to see your process and the beautiful results.

Sherry Schmidt said...

Thanks for all the info, work in progress, and beautiful paintings!

Karla said...

Wow! Amazing paintings! Thanks so much for sharing your progress photos.

Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Rusty, it is important and I like how you told about just letting the scene choose you! These types of posts are inspiring and well worth you showing others. Your work is wonderful, and your in progress shots are good for teaching others without getting bogged down in what color, what strokes ... letting us look and absorb what is important for us at this time in our own journey! Thank you and I appreciate your blog and you!

Unknown said...

I admire your ability to do something I have difficulty doing: making a great painting out of a subject that is basically bland.

Keiu Kuresaar said...

Thank you, very educational. Just what i need :)

mlucena said...

Thanks, Rusty! Your work is wonderful. Great blog! I work primarily in pastels, and am getting back into oils, too. Your palette setup is very helpful.

Unknown said...

I'm amazed at how you can move from scene to scene and keep painting. I get emotionally "drained" after getting pulled into one place, my brain just won't let it go :)

Unknown said...

Fascinating information I haven’t been experienced such information in quite a long time.

Mike Kennedy said...

Very impressed with your effort and results! Keep it coming! :)

Terre K Ritchie said...

Thanks for all the insite and instruction. It's always fun to see how others do it.

Mo Teeuw said...

Very inspiring. makes me want to get out there. Thanks for sharing.

jerry gerow said...

i am new at plein air and seeing your terrific colors from a basically plain scene was thrilling.

Kathleen Barnes said...

Great blog post. I am inspired to jump in my car with my paints and try to run off at least a few paintings.

PleinAirGal said...

Excellent post - especially the part about NOT having preconceived expectations of what to paint. Been there, done that, it ALWAYS fails!

Kathryn Clark said...

It was fun and informative to ride along with you on your Plein air day. I'd like to see more of your posts, but please include the size of your canvas. I kept saying to myself, "Is he painting 9x12" or 11x14". It makes a difference in a two hour painting. But thanks for sharing!

Rusty Jones said...

Wow! Thanks everybody for taking time to comment. I really appreciate all your thoughts. Guess I hit onto something so stay tuned for similar type of posts in the near future.

Unknown said...

Very inspiring! Battery Led Picture Light

Germaine said...

Thanks for sharing your painting process and thoughts with us. It inspires "us" other artists to do more, better! Beautiful!

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