This one from a Sunday plein air excursion with our group a few weeks back. There are some fabulous views of the town and beyond as you go up the hills - really inspiring but they are quite a challenge to paint! I always kind of do the background as a generalized blur and plan to differentiate near the end of the session but find by the time I get there I'm just about exhausted and no longer have the freshness required. I relied on the camera here to finish it up back in the studio but it irks me to lug that thing around and half the time I forget to snap one anyway before I start painting. Most paintings I work on fore and background and everything else all at the same time, together. Somehow I can't do this with these big overviews and I don't like the way a painting loses integrity if you chop it up and give your full attention and energy to just one or two "favorite" areas. That is just what I used to do many years ago - everybody does at first - maybe I'm afraid of getting lost in all the little church spirey detail in that background and losing too much time over it as the light changes. However "we shall overcome" (maybe).
This is the larger of the two I painted with my wife Donna's group a couple of weeks back at the "ghost town" of Las Minas de Pozos, a largely abandoned mining town from the last century, not too far from San Miguel. It was one of the most comfortable paintings I've done outside in a while, as the old concrete floor we stood on was level and weedlees and well-shaded from the partially intact vaulted ceiling over our heads. We had a great time and all returned to S. Miguel late in the day, exhausted but happy.