Rob Prince of Winnipeg, Manitoba recently wrote asking my opinion on which size of panel or canvas to use when painting en plein air.
Well, according to my experience, 12" x 16" panels seem to be the most popular size for plein air painters. Many of my artist friends use smaller panels such as 8" x 10", and some use larger 16" x 20" canvases. The longer I paint, the more I am drawn to paint larger. Maybe it is the fact that I have learned to paint faster, or it's because it doesn't take that much longer to paint a larger canvas by simply using a larger brush and mixing more pigment. The larger canvas and larger brushes also seems to support more animated brushwork, and the opportunity to apply broken colour in larger areas.
In 2000, my brother Martin and I attended a week long plein-air workshop in Bennington, Vermont organized by the PAPA (Plein-Air painters of America). About 12 of the signature members acted as instructors for the week to about 100 artists. Marty and I took notice of how the workshops were conducted and we noticed that most, if not all of the instructors demos were done on small panels no larger than 12" x 16" (with some even smaller). The demos lasted 60 to 90 minutes and it was evident that the smaller panels did allow the instructor to complete or almost complete a painting in that time frame.
My good friend and a true plein air painter Ron Gang, has recently changed my whole idea of what is large and small. Ron, born and raised in Toronto, now lives in Kibbutz, Urim in Israel.
"I came to Israel in 1972, fascinated by the kibbutz, communal way of life, and subsequently met my wife, a native of Israel. I studied art in the 80's here - something that had been just a hobby just for fun but gradually became the main thing in my life."
In his recent letter to me, Ron said that he has painted a 10 meter plein air painting over the course of 2 months! This and other very large plein air paintings were done in sections. I also want to bring to your attention of how Ron was so creative in dealing with the conditions he had to work in. The sheet hanging in the trees and the very basic equipment shows Ron's love and dedication to plein air painting. Ron has certainly shown me what painting large really means.
I am proud to be his friend and I am pleased to share with you some of Ron's art and his life as an artist. For more information of Ron and his work go to www.rongang.net
Ron and I at his art show a few years ago here in Toronto
So, keep those brushes clean and ready to go!
Quote of the week:
"Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."