First Plein Air Landscape Paintings of the Year

First Plein Air Landscape Paintings of the Year

First plein air painting of the year

Last Monday, I was delighted to get out plein air painting for the first time this year.

This time I did not take my pastels or my gouache (my two usual favorites for painting the landscape outside)– they struck me as too slow and careful.  Instead, I made a kit of a limited few acrylic colors, some water soluble inktense pencils, some water soluble artgraf graphite, and some large brushes with a jar of water.

My mission was to quickly get down some impressions for playing with later. Will I collage them? Will they become finished work? We’ll see. But in the process, I loved being out looking, breathing the fresh air– full of the promise of spring– even though I was there wearing my smock over my winter coat.

Gosh, my most immediate take away is that I need to do exactly this more often: pick a simple, limited set of tools and materials, and get out there.  Let it rip quickly, loosely grabbing impressions, textures, vignettes, gestural lines. Do lots and do it fast, then decide later how I’ll use them.

The motive was seeing, as well as the experience of translating that to paper without even trying at all for it be literal.  This in turn makes these works free, with spontaneously energetic marks, so even though they were done with low stakes and abbreviated attention, I kind of like them.

Since Monday, I’ve been looking at these through view finders, considering cropping them or collaging them into each other. In the meantime, before I rip them into pieces for repurposing, I thought I’d post a couple here. Just even having them propped around the studio makes me feel all over again that uncompromisingly invigorating air.

Also, since people have been asking a lot about my “process” lately, I’ve added a new tag (“process” see below the post) that I’ll start adding content to going forward.



I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Isabel 1 month ago

    I like the looseness, painterliness, of these. I have lost that. Large brushes, yes. Don’t cut them up! They speak on their own. Have lots of energy.

    Do you use art graf graphite as if it were a block of watercolor paint? Very interesting company.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 1 month ago

      You could. But I use it more like a drawing too, particularly satisfying into a wet or painted area.


  1. […] Last week, I posted my first trip out this spring to paint outdoors, and the collage above is the result of tearing those into pieces. […]

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