Saturday, September 7, 2013


The rain has finally stopped and the urge to sit outdoors and enjoy the view has taken over.  I have frequently hooked out on the deck, but this week was different. As I was sitting outside, I thought about plein air painters. Why not plein air hooking?

I went downstairs and grabbed a portable chair, a tub full of wool strips, my trusty hook and a pair of scissors.  I was ready to go.  I walked around the field and settled on a spot with a view.

I have long loved old sheds and barns and our neighbors old shed was perfect. Plein air is being in the outdoors and paying attention to colors and lighting.  At the time I sat down to hook, the sun was directly on the shed. 

The first step was to  draw some outlines of the shed on a piece of linen.  I then plowed through my wool stash.  The first problem arrived.  Where a painter can mix paints on the spot, a rug hooker cannot just pull out the dye pot in the field.  I was limited to working with what I had in the stash.  

As the sun was directly on the shed and I had no light grays, I used my off -whites. These strips would give a sense of the brightness I was viewing.  Here is the result of an afternoon of hooking:

"Crooked Old Shed"  Lori LaBerge  4x6  (8x10 framed)  2013

I learned quite a bit with this exercise. In addition to hooking supplies, I would recommend bringing sunglasses, water, bug spray, a towel, sunscreen, and a hat or umbrella for shade.  Try to find a shady spot if possible, the sun gets hot when you are sitting out in the open for a while.  If you are hooking in cooler weather, don't forget a sweater.  Also, try to avoid windy days, those wool strips go everywhere!

Work at a decent speed.  The goal is to finish a piece in a few hours, not days.  I worked for three and a half hours.  Think simple and small scale as far as design, detail is for studio art.  The light changes constantly as clouds pass overhead, which affects color.  I was surprised that I spotted yellow and pink on the shed.  I may never have added those colors alongside the off white if I had been in the studio working from a photo.

Subjects could include:

 a local hillside

 a barn

or a local building.

The great outdoors can be overwhelming.  You can travel far or stay close to home. Choose a specific subject.  A shed, a tree grouping, a hillside, flowers, a mountain, etc. Do not try to hook everything. Have a good variety of colors with plenty of greens and blues.

I would like to start a group on the internet that focuses on plein air hooking for those who are serious about their art.   The idea would be to present various rug hooker's works that not only focus on the outdoors, but are created in the outdoors. If you are interested in this, please contact me at  If enough are interested,  I will start plans for setting up a site.

The next two weeks, I will be on vacation.  Kami LaBerge will be taking over the blog for me and will be reporting from Los Angeles, CA. 

Head out into the great outdoors, look at how light affects color and have a great day. 


 Pete finishing up the side.  Luckily, we have a wonderful neighbor who lets us borrow his tractor.

We are now siding the front of the studio.  I'm exhausted!


  1. I would be most interested in your group. I have recently joined a plein air sketching group and enjoy that very much. I can see how hooking would adapt well to the same idea!
    Michele Phillips

    1. Thank you for your interest, Michele. I will be working on this idea when I return from vacation. Glad to have you on board.