December 19, 2014

Painting in Changeable Weather

"Dancing Aspens" oil on canvas, 9X12"

painting in progress in the field

sun on the same scene while painting

I thought this would be a way to illustrate some of the challenges of the plein air process, and also to shed some light around how to deal with them.  The top photo is my finished painting, the photo below is my plein air set up while painting, the photo below that shows the scene sunlit as opposed the prior photo which is in shadow.

When I started the painting, the scene was in sunlight in the foreground (see bottom photo), and shadow in the far back ground.  The sky was grey above the golden field and aspens.  

As the painting progressed, the light changed, and changed.....and then changed again. It was such an "iffy" day weather wise I knew that if I didn't work fast I would be sunk.  I blocked in all of the color and value relationships as quickly as I could,  in about 20 minutes, using big brushes.  Details and texture would come later - if I had time.

Light came into the background on and off, and I laid in the light as I first saw it.  The sky changed dramatically during the painting process.  Again, I went with what was first there.  If you keep changing the painting as the conditions change YOU WILL NEVER FINISH.  That's the hard reality.  On an overcast or bright sunny day, you have more latitude that way, but you can still get  yourself into trouble if you take too long to block in.

I would like you to notice the difference in the colors in the bottom photo as opposed to what appears in the painting.  I can tell you the painting is accurate, and the photo not.  This in itself is a great reason to go out and paint on location.

An autumn storm, complete with hail and howling winds started up before I had my gear tucked away, but my painting was complete.  I had snapped a few photos of the changing conditions in case I needed further reference to finish my study or create a studio work at a later date.  The color notes collected while in the field will be my guide if I choose to do a studio piece of this scene.

I headed for the warm house, built a fire and made myself a well earned latte while the wind howled and the hail pounded.  Not a bad day at the office, really!

Happy painting,


1 comment:

  1. Looks good Gaye! I can really relate to the challenges of painting with changeable weather especially if there is also a body of water included within the scene. The changes can be very dramatic in such a short time which can be frustrating and rewarding at the same time. I tend to take lots of photos during a painting session like that and do an analysis and comparisons with my oil sketch later on.
    Thanks for sharing, Len