If you’ve never come across the idea, a virtual paintout is a plein air painting done from the comfort of your studio using the benefits of modern technology i.e. Google Street View. Okay, so not plein air at all but you do get to paint a nice location without having to suffer either the distress of unpredictable weather or the curiosity of passers-by.
Each month Bill would choose a country/region that artists could search for a view they’d like to paint. Paintings had to be submitted by the end of the month. A great and fun idea – painting parts of the world you’ll never have a chance to visit. I don’t know why I stopped doing them, it was always interesting to see the scenes other artists felt were worth painting. Mr Guffey may no longer be organising these paintouts but I see no reason not to do a few more by myself.
I won’t have someone to choose a random region (which stops you only choosing places you know are picturesque) but what I’ll do is simply run, alphabetically, through the 195 countries of the world, starting with Afghanistan. I wonder if Street View has been to Afghanistan?
A confession: I started this blog post way back at the beginning of October 2019. It’s taken me this long to finish this single paintout so goodness knows how long it will take to get through the remaining 194! Definitely not a simple run, more like a slow hard slog.
Anyway back to the Afghanistan Paintout. Has Street View been to Afghanistan? The answer to that is, not surprisingly, no. Thankfully, though you don’t get the usual interactive street panoramas, there are quite a few 360 degrees photos to choose from. I believe the photos are submitted by individuals who live near or visit the locations. I really appreciate their generosity in submitting their photos and am very grateful for the efforts of a certain Sultan Zarbi who has taken some of the photos around Kabul, including the one on which this paintout painting was based.
The photo I settled on was of a lovely settlement north west of Kabul. Mud brick houses sit amidst a small forest grove, the houses are approached via a rocky road that you see in the foreground. Sandy hills provide a dramatic backdrop.
There are no people to be seen and the small slit windows of the buildings suggest a community that prefers to keep itself hidden away. Of course that probably just reflects my knowledge of Afghanistan’s recent history, it could just be the best way to protect themselves from harsh natural elements – the Afghan climate features extremes of temperatures.
The painting is in acrylics and has been done on Arches 300gsm cold press paper. I’ve used much brighter tones than seen in the photograph, which was quite dull and dusty, but I think it makes for a more interesting and attractive piece.
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