Hello everyone. Today I’d like to explain about the difference between plein air drawing and finished drawing. Well, this is only my opinion, and, I know for a fact that many other artists feel differently. Anyway, to my mind, a plein air painting or drawing is one that is completed outdoors and on the spot. Of course, you could complete it indoors, if you were in a museum or a gallery, church or anywhere really. The point is that you draw your impression of the scene and then leave it . To be honest, this means that some parts of it could perhaps benefit from some improvement later. Personally, I prefer to leave it as it is, as a true record of what I saw.
An ” Unfinished ” Drawing
This watercolour sketch was done in 25 minutes in a medium sized sketchbook whilst sitting on a bench. In fact, this is one of our favourite places, an English Heritage garden. And it is beautiful even in cold, overcast autumn weather. Actually, I love this spot, looking across at the majestic Scots pines to the ” daffodil meadow “. (You’ll have to use your imagination ! ) You see, some people might think that this is not a finished piece. Mainly because it could stand quite a bit of improvement. But, to my way of thinking it is one of my finished drawings. Because it’s a true record of my immediate reaction to the scene, full, I hope , of spontaneity and memories.
A Finished Drawing
Well, this is an example of what I call a finished watercolour sketch. To be clear, I sat for half an hour in front of this glorious bright view and sketched it and laid down about two layers of colour. Then, time was up! And I had to leave it at that and come home. In effect, I was very inspired by the beauty of the mellow autumn colours of the trees and hedgerows . So I did some work on it afterwards to do it justice, spending a very pleasant hour doing so. To sum up, I have now created quite a nice finished off painting. But I can’t describe it as a plein air watercolour sketch. I hope that I have made my reasoning clear and that you can appreciate both kinds of work.
An Unfinished Drawing ?
Finally, this watercolour sketch was completed in 40 minutes as I sat in the car, while my husband was shopping in the supermarket. In my mind, this is finished, although some people might think of it as unfinished. Mainly because it could be improved. You can see more real plein air sketches here . As we say in Urban Sketchers, a true record of that day. And, I do hope that you can see the difference.
9 Replies to “Finished Drawing and Unfinished Drawing.”
So beautiful 😍 💖
Thank you so much !
Wow. I love this! It brings me joy. I feel in awe of people who do watercolours. The patience required to work with thin colours to build up the composition. I don’t know; it just feels so different from painting with acrylics or oils, even though I often build up very thin colour layers with that too.
Anyway, this is a lovely painting.
Thank you so much for your kind words ! To be honest, I don’t think I have a lot of skill with watercolour – I use it mainly for outdoor sketching and I occasionally do a more finished piece. But I enjoy working with it. Perhaps you could give it a try sometime and just go for it !
Bonjour, j’aime beaucoup cette explosion de couleurs qui apparait dans toutes vos créations. Bravo à vous.
Thank you so much!I really adore bright colours and I’m so glad that you like my work.
Working outside certainly has limitations with watercolour. A dryer would help my impatience, so compromises are made which effect the outcome. I suppose you can get a freshness from the necessary simplicity you are forced to adopt.
Yes, you are right, Graham. Compromises are made but, for me, there’s nothing like the life in something done on the spot.