Kathleen Dunphy is not exceedingly diligent about “feeding the beast” — her blog will be updated several times one month, then she may take a month or two off. But as a recent post shows, her blog is worth bookmarking and checking now and then, because the info that does show up is thought-provoking.

In a post titled, “Step Inside: Effectively Using Plein Air Studies for Studio Paintings,” Dunphy gives some startling but logical advice: When choosing a plein air study from which to paint a larger studio piece, don’t necessarily choose a successful study. Choosing a study that doesn’t quite succeed on its own may force you to explore solutions you didn’t pursue outdoors. Trying to duplicate a successful painting, on the other hand, may end in frustration. “After years of trial and error, I’ve finally learned that I have to challenge myself and explore new ideas to stay engaged and focused in the studio,” Dunphy writes in her blog. “Consequently, studies that weren’t just right, that had good elements in them but didn’t quite come together as completely successful paintings, are the ones that are the most enjoyable for me to use as reference. Back in the comfort of my studio, I can explore why those paintings didn’t work, and in a more controlled environment, try to learn from those errors and — hopefully — resolve them.”

Some good news: That post was labeled “Part One.”

Elsewhere on the blog, Dunphy outlines her plein air equipment and explains why she chose each item. This is always interesting, as every plein air painter has a different setup and varying explanations for the choices. A post on painting in snow had so many good tips, PleinAir editor Steve Doherty showcased it in PleinAir Today some time back, and discussions of how to balance plein air work with studio work and the advantages of painting in the company of dogs liven up the blog’s archives as well. Dunphy may not be prolific, but she’s been blogging since March 2008, so go check out her stockpile of painting observations.


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