What’s Behind You While Painting

“Pipe Work Ahead,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.

Plein air painting isn’t just about the view in front of you. It’s about the entire environment around you. Danny Griego is exploring this through short videos.

His idea came to the attention of folks on social media when he approached the popular seven-day painting challenge by posting short videos showing his painting spot all around him. Griego calls it Plein Air 360, and he hopes the idea spreads.

“Lincoln Bridge Descent,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 16 in.
“Lincoln Bridge Descent,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 16 in.

“There are tons of artists who post outdoor pictures of their easel with their paintings on it so you can see the subject matter in the background,” says Griego. “I save them because I like to see how they interpret the scene. I like to see with their eyes what they see in the landscape. Then, in September, I was painting a taco shop and a group watched and chatted with me. It turned into a conversation about painting in awkward places in terms of traffic and weather. It thought it might be kind of neat to show not only what I’m painting, but a video with a 360 view, starting just to the left of the painting and ending with the painting and subject. What’s around you goes into your painting, too. There’s a lot that goes on outside of the subject matter.”

“Roof Top Kitty,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.
“Roof Top Kitty,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.

Griego’s method of starting the 360-degree pan away from the painting and subject and ending it with the work in progress creates suspense and a great payoff in the end. The videos are only about 15 seconds long. He has taken them at a construction site, on a busy overpass, in Colombia, and in San Diego’s Balboa Park. But the main subject of his paintings is his neighborhood, the Hillcrest area of San Diego. “It’s a really neat neighborhood,” he says. There is tons of cool stuff to do here.”

“Brick Yard,” by Danny Griego, oil, 9 x 12 in.
“Brick Yard,” by Danny Griego, oil, 9 x 12 in.
“Split Decision,” by Danny Griego, oil, 10 x 10 in.
“Split Decision,” by Danny Griego, oil, 10 x 10 in.

Both in San Diego and in Colombia, which he visits about every other year with his Colombian-born wife, the interaction with passersby is one of his favorite things. “When painting my neighborhood, there are always people walking about,” says Griego. “I’ve painted nocturnes and had visits from people who had a little too much to drink. It’s all good. And in Colombia people were very interested and so sweet. And you can always hear salsa music in the background, no joke. It’s always fun to take my gear down there and find neat things to paint.”

“Alcazar Garden,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.
“Alcazar Garden,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.

Griego accepts interaction with people while painting as part of the job. “You are asking for it when you set up and put some paint on your palette,” he says. “People want to know what you are up to. There’s a lot more interaction than if you are painting in the woods. It’s good energy — it’s all good. If I’m painting a restaurant, the workers at the restaurant might bring me food. The part of the painting that I try to concentrate on the most is the beginning. After that I don’t care who talks to me. The kind of painting I do is usually urban, and these places are busy. It’s never mellow. There’s always a story to tell.”

“Car Audio,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.
“Car Audio,” by Danny Griego, oil, 8 x 10 in.

Griego tries to show some of that story in his Plein Air 360 short videos. Visit his Facebook page to see all of them.

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