Plein Airpril Week 1 Progress Update

We’re a week into Plein Airpril and I’ve already hit a snag: I didn’t do two days because of heavy freezing rains. Welcome to spring!

Here are my first six anyway (covering the first 7 days of April + bonus March 31).

March 31: Mallard

Mallard at Black’s Nook (getting a jump on Plein Airpril.) March 31, 2024.

I got a jump on things on March 31, which was a Sunday, by painting a little mallard at my local bog. If I were to do this again, I’d make the water darker. The striking sky is an ultramarine + PBRS mi which I like in the photo but found too violet IRL, and vowed to switch to Cobalt Blue.

April 1: Maple Flowers on Boston Common

Plein Airpril – April 1, 2024. Maple flowers on Boston Common.

I did this one with dilated eyes after an eye doctor appointment! I was struck by the clouds of red flowers on maple trees; they were much brighter than they appear in the photo, though still not as bright as I painted them (I don’t have a dark red on my spring palette and used PR122 + PY65).

April 2: Robin

April 3: Cherry Blossoms

Plein Airpril – April 3, 2024. Cherry blossoms in rain.

This was a difficult one to get done because I was very cold and it was starting to rain, so it’s sort of unfinished. I was experimenting with pink colors through diluting, and not having white on my palette. I do think I lost the plot by adding too much PR122, but they were pretty good temporarily – you can see in some of the back layers.

April 6: Cherry Blossoms Again

I didn’t paint anything for April 4 and 5; there was a bout of snow/freezing rain followed by a bout of me being busy. On April 6 I reprised cherry blossoms with a different tree. I’m pretty pleased with this pink mix, which also does not use white (it’s PR122 + PR209, plus palette grays for the shadows). I think I can officially declare white an unnecessary part of the spring palette.

April 7: Forsythia

A gray day made these forsythia blooms pop. House sparrows love a forsythia!

Palette Update

You’ll be unshocked to know that I have already made palette changes from the “starting palette” I described in my my Plein Airpril Begins post.

Spring Palette 2024 – Revised

Top Row:

  • Holbein – Imidazolone Lemon PY175 (same)
  • Daniel Smith – Permanent Yellow Deep PY110 (lateral move from PY65)
  • Da Vinci – Quin Red PR209 (same)
  • Holbein – Quin Magenta PR122 (same)
  • Winsor & Newton – Phthalo Turquoise PB16 (changed from PBRS)
  • Daniel Smith – Phthalo Green YS PG36 (same)
  • Daniel Smith – Rich Green Gold PY129 (same)

Bottom row:

  • Holbein – Raw Sienna PY42/PBr7 (lateral move from Holbein Yellow Ochre)
  • Daniel Smith – Transparent Red Oxide PR101 (same)
  • Daniel Smith – Indanthrone Blue PB60 (same)
  • Rembrandt – Lavender PB29/PV15/PW6 (changed from Indian Red)
  • Da Vinci – Cobalt Blue PB28 (changed from Ultramarine PB29)
  • Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue PB35 (same)
  • Schmincke – Cobalt Turquoise PG50 (changed from Indigo)

Change Summary

Maybe it’s just because we’re further into spring, but I’ve somewhat abandoned the idea of balancing bright with muted colors and just gone for brighter colors and pastels!

Yellow-Orange: PY65 and PY110 are almost the same color, but I thought I’d try the more transparent and slightly more orangey version of this deep yellow.

Earth Yellow: Similarly, Holbein Yellow Ochre and Holbein Raw Sienna are very similar in hue, with RS being more transparent, granulating, and a bit browner (it’s a mix of the Yellow Ochre PY42 pigment and PBr7 brown). Holbein RS is a new color for me, and it looks lot like DS MANS, but I’m hoping it will be a bit stronger and not flake out of the pan as easily.

Blues: I decided to switch my sky duo from Ultramarine Blue + Phthalo Blue Red Shade to the more green-toned pair Cobalt Blue + Phthalo Turquoise. Skies seem to look greener in spring than they did in winter… maybe I’m just wearing sunglasses more often, idk.

I also dropped Indigo, as I wasn’t reaching for it when I needed a dark blue – I invariably go for Indanthrone. Indigo can make dark greens, but so too can Indanthrone, and if I need them greener I can just add a bit of actual green. I used the extra space for Cobalt Turquoise, which though I use it rarely is a very springy color. I just love how it looks on the palette, which is worth something!

Violets: I dropped DV Indian Red, because I found that I tended to simply use it interchangeably with TRO (or get it mixed up with TRO on the palette), but I have better facility with making browns and neutrals with TRO.

Although it’s by no means a replacement since it does different things, I used the extra space to add Lavender, a convenience light violet mix. This is fairly unnecessary, since I can mix a lavender hue with Cerulean and magenta, but it seemed like a nice way to sort of sneak in some Ultramarine Blue and white into the palette despite dropping those colors from last year. My favorite uses of both Ultramarine Blue and white are together, in cloud mixes, so this is a way of kind of ensuring that I only use them together and don’t use them for other things (like Ultramarine skies or white-mixed pinks) which I don’t like as well.

Blog Housekeeping

Another thing I said in my Plein Airpril Begins post that I am now going back on: that I might post daily for Plein Airpril. So far, I have not, nor do I think it is likely. Weekly is probably about all I can manage. Actually, I think weekly is ideal because my monthly round-up for Nature Spots required me to remember details from early in the month for way too long.

I went ahead and re-filled in Wednesdays and Fridays with scheduled posts for this month, saving Monday for my Plein Airpril updates. So the MWF blog schedule, which I know you DEPEND on, is safe.