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White Lily Plein Air

This week I began a painting of one of the White Lily flowers from my flower garden. The weather was cool with the threat of rain, so I thought it would be very nice to sit outside at the picnic table, under the canopy and paint Plein air. As a kid I used to love sitting in the backyard at the patio table with my crayons and coloring books and color during a rainstorm, so this brought back pleasant memories.

I set up all my gear and across the lake I noticed the clouds growing heavy and dark. The wind was starting to blow, but ever so slightly, and I wondered if this was going to be a bad idea. I hesitated a couple of times thinking maybe I should just paint inside, but then decided to go for it anyway. Here’s my subject, a White Lily in a small vase:

White Lily


I put the flower in a small vase because the stem is very short, which makes it top heavy, but creates a grand presentation. I chose to paint just the flower and not the vase. After setting out my palette and mixing colors I set to work laying in the base colors.

Palette colors


Things were going very well and it started to rain which was so nice. I was really enjoying the painting session even though it was a bit cool, but I’d rather be a little cool than so hot you can’t think! Then the winds arrived. Seriously? I’ll tell you, it hasn’t been the greatest of plein air sessions so far this year!

Twice the wind knocked over my vase, but luckily the flower wasn’t harmed. The tablecloth on the picnic table kept flying up and covering my work area, and I had to rearrange things and batten down the hatches, so to speak, cause I was determined to not let the weather deter my painting time!

Painting set up

This was my set up. I used the “baby” paint box and a 6″x6″ gessoed panel. I’ve taken this box with me several times on recent outings with the hope of getting a painting done, but it hasn’t worked out. I’ve been wanting to try a different technique as an experiment with this gesso panel so that’s how I came to paint this White Lily. My experiment using a different medium worked, and I’m really pleased with the results.

I used a small light to help me see my painting because for some reason, being outside makes it hard to see what I’m painting! It’s the strangest thing. You’d think being outside there’d be plenty of light to see, but it’s actually too much light. It’s as if the painting soaks up all the light, but really it’s just too much glare. Then, if I use an umbrella, it gets too dark. Plus, I was under a canopy and it was cloudy, making the lighting rather muted. This little light was just the right thing to use.

I was able to accomplish my goal of laying in all the base colors before I called it on account of the wind. Now I will let it dry and then go in with highlights and the back ground. Here’s a peek at the Lilies in the flower garden:

White Lilies

See the Bumble Bee on the upper left side of the top flower? I’m wondering if I should put a bee on the petal? What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

I’ll share the finished piece when it’s done. Until then, much love! ~Rhonda