Yamhill Valley (8x10) oil on linen
Even though I enjoy studio painting, my greatest exercise & teacher is getting outside to paint from nature. When I do larger, "finished" landscape paintings, they are usually started outside (if not completed there) but never begun from photographs -- I only reference a photograph if I've actually started the work from life (or from a smaller plein air sketch). There are just too many pitfalls working entirely from a photograph; most of which is the convenience of time to overwork and "render" a subject to death...
Evening Trees (6x8) oil on linen
Although time can be a task master it keeps us on track, and I often find the outdoor paintings I rush to complete usually retain that fresh spontaneity I'm hoping for. If I can accept the raw energy of imperfect brush strokes, but get at least the approximate value and colour right, then I'm doing okay... Of course it can be much more challenging than it sounds, but it sure is worth the effort when it works out.