I’m delighted to introduce you to Marz Doerflinger, the Pastel Award winner of the May PleinAir Salon.
First, let’s have a look at her winning painting.
I asked Marz Doerflinger to tell us something about the inspiration for the piece. Before she did that, however, she shared something of her philosophy as an artist.
“First, let me say that I am almost exclusively a plein air painter. I do a bit of studio work in pastel, but rarely from photos. If I do studio paintings, I prefer using my plein air paintings as a reference. I’m always working towards more abstraction, and I find that easier if I don’t use reference photos.
In the field, I strive to paint the truth. For me, the truth resides in the feeling of a place more than accurate depictions of a scene. I work towards simplifying the shapes and amplifying the colour to capture the true spirit of the landscape and how it affects me.
I am a big advocate for painting the same location week after week, season after season, year after year. Dedication to a specific place allows me to develop a familiarity and an intimacy with the environment. I notice the subtle changes that occur over time: grasses glowing with early summer growth, hay fields freshly mowed, trees lost to winter.
The Best Plein Air Pastel in the May 2022 Plein Air Salon was painted at my favourite location in Washington State, the Billy Frank Jr National Wildlife Refuge. This is a perfect example of the benefit of really understanding the scene. This particular afternoon was radiant with a lowering sun reflecting off fresh spring growth. The hay fields shimmered with chartreuse blades over pink stalks. I’m not sure I would have noticed those nuances enough to amplify them if I hadn’t witnessed this exact spot so many times over the years. This painting happened quickly with thin veils of color contrasting with a few spots of pastel laid on so thickly it almost looks greasy.”
Now go have another look at Marz’s award-winning pastel!
Here are a couple more of her paintings which clearly show this move towards abstraction. They were done in the same location and have the same basic composition as her winning piece. “This illustrates the value of getting to know a place, then reacting to the scene as it presents itself, filtered through the mood of the artist.”
Marz had this to say to encourage YOU to enter the PleinAir Salon:
“My best advice for anyone considering entering the Plein Air Salon or any other Art competition is to just jump in and do it. It may seem scary to enter – it is for everyone. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there. Don’t overthink your entry by trying to paint a masterpiece, simply enter a painting that makes you smile. I’ve had the most success when I enter work that emphasizes emotion over technical accuracy.”
To enter your work in the PleinAir Salon, click here.
Thanks so much to Marz for sharing her work and advice!
Marz Doerflinger is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and Arizona Pastel Artists Association. She splits her time between studios in Olympia, Washington and Rio Verde, Arizona. Marz is represented by Art House Designs in Washington State. See more of her work here.
Tentative about painting en plein air in bad weather? Here’s the Solution!
As we’ve seen, Marz Doerflinger is a pretty committed plein air painter. The same is definitely true for artist Sharon Bamber. She doesn’t let any kind of inclement weather stop her from painting on location.
What’s her secret? A plastic pop-up tent called the Pod!
Originally made for photographers it works just fine for artists! Sharon squeezes herself, her tripod and attached easel plus a large Heilman pastel box into the tent and paints from inside. “…When I say there’s just enough room, I do mean JUST enough! I can keep the door unzipped so I can step back from my work, but it isn’t easy if it’s really pelting with rain as it can pour in if you unzip it. In that case, I tend to just stay squashed up close to my painting.”
To read about Sharon Bamber’s experiences with the Pod (and much more!), check out CherieDawn Haas’s article in Outdoor Painter.
And that’s it for this time!