Breath of Plein Air!

HOL Dam Falls | 7” x 5” | Oil on Canvas Board

One of my 2022 art-related resolutions is to do more plein air work. I’ve managed to log a couple of days in the field near my house to start the year; this is the first of those sessions. 


There is a trailhead in my neighborhood to the Barton Creek Greenbelt called the Hill of Life (HOL). At the bottom of the HOL (about 1/2 mile long and 300′ elevation drop) is Barton Creek, which is the source of these falls, unofficially called the HOL Falls. Over the past few years, however, due to the massive growth in Austin’s population (I’m lookin’ at you California and Florida), endless festival cycle, and general obsession the world seems to have with Austin, this area has been overrun and trashed with douchebags and idiots who are obsessed with Instagram selfies at the swimming holes along the creek. But I digress…


On weekday mornings, however, there is a respite from the obnoxious, disrespectful throngs and I can enjoy the greenbelt as it was intended. On this day I set up along the creek bank about 100 yards downstream from the falls. I made the aesthetic decision to represent a more springtime landscape, namely all the green trees in the background, but the remainder of the scene is accurate. 


It was a gorgeous morning with a very light wind. The sun was a little obscured by high clouds, but there were enough moments when it peeked through that I got a good read on shadows and value contrasts. Plein air session are always entertaining because something unplanned invariably happens – wind blew my trash bag up and onto my paints, tall reeds also brushed against my painting in the breeze a few times (nature’s paintbrush I suppose), and of course I forgot a wet canvas holder so I had to MacGyver a packing solution for the hike home. 


Overall I’m happy with the outcome, but the greens and atmospheric perspective are off. I’d like to get to the point where my plein air has a sense of place like Laurel Daniel, but that’s going to take a lot more practice… which I don’t mind given how fun it is to paint outdoors! 


Thanks for reading!


#artbern #berntx #crashboomzip #painting #art #abplanalp #austinartists #pleinairaustin #hilloflife #HOL #bartonsprings #closetheHOLtrailhead #sosalliance

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