Plan to do a Throw-away Painting

Artist friends of mine say: The first painting usually is a throw-away painting. 5×7 pastel on mixed media paper, “The Orange Facade.”

New Locations Require Different Thinking

I’m a studio painter but I paint plein air with many different artists. When traveling to a new location for a paintout, many tell me to expect to throw away the first painting, or at least take the pressure off and consider going into the first painting that it likely won’t be very good.

City Scapes: Different for me

I’m in Bogota South America now and the city of 8.1million is a drastic change from my usual surroundings of Rural Indiana. Back home our house is the only house on a mile-long road. But at the equator, the light is very different.

That’s why I went into this first painting not expecting much. Surrounded by mountains, the sun sets behind them and sunset colors don’t get reflected much into the city’s plateau. It’s light and then it’s not.

I opted to use a drawing mixed media paper since I wanted to experiment with the new light and colors. In the 1990s I was part of the San Francisco community. My palette there was like many from the west, lots of yellow, oranges, golds, and violets with very little green. It was only green in the bay area for about 30 days in the spring.

When I returned to the Midwest. I suddenly had to adapt to all the green most of the summer. It was a horrible as a young artist without many tools yet in my box. I am hoping this transition will be faster for my two-month stay in the big city.

What I learned:

  • It probably would have helped me if I had first started to collect color samples before starting the painting
  • Since the first painting often can be a throw-away, start small. I was glad I opted to use mixed media paper for this instead of a larger prepared surface
  • The radiating lines composition I saw develop as I worked toward the finish of this painting



    Lots of atmospheric violets and pinks in Bogota. Then there was this one facade that was a brilliant red or red orange.


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