Being in the moment in nature puts all the senses into overdrive. It is about capturing not only the fugitive light but the sounds, the scents, the wind and the rain; expressing these in visual terms. Painting en plein air is quite different from taking a photograph, which aims to capture a moment in time. A painting seeks to expand time.
I am particularly interested in the human interaction of the land, historically and in the present, the way that humans attempt to redesign nature and I find the remnants of past endeavours particularly poignant.
I tend to work on A1 cartridge paper with soft pastels, selecting hues whose pigments are made from the earth, such as ochres and umbers. I like to move quickly in order to take in the ever evolving scene as the light shifts and plays. I stand up, moving around the easel (good tip for keeping warm too). Pastels are great for their expediency. I work in three layers, starting by marking in the composition with mid-tones, then building up the darkest areas, always mindful of the aerial perspective which Scottish landscape provides with unique purple blue-grays not only in the distance but in the shadows, and finally tinting up. Pastels are very opaque so sometimes it must be gently brushed across sky so that the paper surface provides light, a technique normally used with watercolours. I usually take 40 minutes for a piece, bearing in mind that plein air work is ever transitory.