One of the values of painting from life is learning to observe more closely. When you get to the point in your painting career that you find you are actually learning from yourself it's a huge breakthru. What I mean by that is that you realize that it's your efforts that are the best teachers. Each time you go out to paint you learn something new either about painting or about yourself. Some how you file this new knowledge back in your memory to be used when you need it next. It's surprising how often something will jog your memory and you find it useful to have already gone down that path.
This is what we do when we go out to do field studies. A field study doesn't actually have to be any more than just that. It's a way of capturing what you see so you can use it again later maybe for a larger studio work. Plein air painters have found this act of doing field studies valuable because it takes the pressure off of doing a completed work. It's surprising how that label affords such freedom of expression and many times you end up with paintings that are completely sellable just as they are. Many collectors really enjoy collecting field studies and often times end up buying the companion studio work as well.
Today, if you have time, take a look at the field studies of Marc Hanson. http://www.marchansonart.com/ . Get inspired and if you want to go out and paint, call me and we'll go. I'll be in Pine Mountain this Wednesday and Thursday. I'd love to paint with someone and do some field studies.
Hope you have a great plein air day, Phyllis