I was talking to a beginning plein air painter the other day about blocking in paintings, so I thought I would share this experience. I painted this piece on my friend's ranch. Animals are great to practice block-ins because they don't stand still for long.
Below is my initial block in. As you can see it is rough, I didn't waste time trying to get things perfect, I just blocked in general shape and color.
Because animals move around, this piece is actually a composition of a number of animals. For example, I knocked in my immediate impression with the gesture and basic drawing of a white chicken. Once I had the block in, I could just watch how the light hit the other chickens that were running around. I used that information to accurately paint the colors on my canvas.
The ram was more cooperative. He pretty much stuck around, I just had to wait until he looked up at me. When he was otherwise occupied, I mixed the colors that I saw in his fleece and painted from memory or waited until he moved back into position.