Thursday, May 8, 2014

Painting on location with moving shadows.


(Needs a title, ideas welcome)
7x9, oil

One of the obvious challenges of painting on location is working with the movement of the sun.
The majority of the time I'm drawn to paint a scene because of a particular pattern of light and we all know that there is nothing more transient and uncontrollable than the sun & weather. This morning I chose my composition based on that patch of light and the shadow of the tree in the center of the painting/scene.

 This is what the scene looked like for the first 15 minutes or so as I began the painting.

And this is what the scene looked like as I was finishing up. Yep. It got cloudy.
The sun peeked out a couple times, but that shadow from the pine tree in the middle was no longer at a nice diagonal to the right. It was at a slight diagonal toward the left and that patch of sunny grass turned into a sliver.

When painting outdoors you need self control. It's easier to change the game plan (i.e. composition of shapes/subject of the painting) as the hours roll by and the clouds roll in. A firm idea of what you want the painting to communicate and a strong composition is necessary. 

What's this "idea" you speak of? We artists call this the "subject" of the painting. I wanted to showcase the beautiful morning light shining through the trees and illuminating the spring grass. 

They say the first 15 minutes are the most important of the entire painting process. In this case I 100% agree. If I hadn't marked that patch of light, each tree, the shadows and highlights I would have lost my "idea" when we lost the light.

What's the moral of the story?
When painting outdoors, make a plan and stick to it. That's a note to my easily-distracted self.


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