Sunday, October 5, 2014

Step by step completion of a plein air painting

Plein air painting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains recently, I was able to spend a lovely afternoon along the side of a country road painting this amazing vista. There was only room for two of us artists as the road was a bit narrow down in a dip in the road but we got set up quickly to take advantage of the light. Unfortunately there was a curve in the road one way so the traffic didn't get much time to slow down once they saw us, which made for some dust rolling over us. Oh well. For a photo of the scene click here



Completed Watercolour Painting


About 90 % of the painting was completed on location, and this is the painting I came home to the studio with. Plein air paintings have a freshness to them which an artist must struggle to maintain when finishing them at home. I will give you a step by step account of the decisions I am making as I complete this painting under idea conditions in the studio.
 I darken around the aspen tree trunks in the middle ground to focus the viewers eye there. The front aspens seem a bit bare to me so I add some leaves. The blue sky colour appears too isolated so I brought some of that ultramarine blue colour into other parts of the painting including to the shade at the base of the middle ground aspens and into the shadows of the grass in the foreground.
The middle row of trees were given more form to their leaves by darkening the bottom with dark green and strengthening the middle green while taking care to leave a little highlight along the tree tops. As well dark green was added behind the highlighted white tree tops to make them stand out.
The foreground was given stronger colour by adding burnt orange especially around the left two trees.

I lightened the middle ground tree tops by lifting out the paint. The trunks of the three trees in the front are toned from bright white to focus the attention on the whitest white of the middle ground aspens.

I deepened the blue in the shadows of the middle ground aspens and added some blue in the shadows between the trees. Lime green is added on the right side in a line behind the warm golden and burnt orange swath.

More branches were added with a palette knife as details to the front trees with some of the branches pointing to that little grove of aspen in the middle ground.

An opaque lemon yellow was added to fill in between leaves to better group them which is what you see when you look at a leaves on a tree.
I thought a little more lime green was needed on the right side to balance the same colour on the left foreground. It seems important to stop before the looseness of the plein air painting is lost.


Another watercolour painting  that is 90 % or so completed on location. This is the middle ground group of aspen from the painting above. I really would have liked to get up closer to them but there were two barbwire fences in between and also private property. Where to go from here with this painting. I love the looseness and brightness of this little sketch that was completed in about fifteen minutes after the first one was painted in about an hour and a half.


1 comment:

Win Dinn said...

I very much enjoyed reading about your decision-making process, Eileen. Lovely painting!