I labored on Labor Day, cleaning my back porch from top to bottom. Took me most of the day. By the time I'm done, it's 4:00, 97 degrees and I am too tired to get in my car and drive around looking for a place to paint. So as I sit on my clean porch with a cold beer admiring the results of my hard work, I look out into the back yard and decide my subject for today is 20 feet away. One of the maple trees is sunlit from the west and the lights and shadows are perfect.
The good thing about painting at 4:00 in the afternoon in September is that the light is pretty constant for about an hour. The bad thing is, it's 97 degrees. Although, truth be told, in the shade it wasn't too bad. Good thing I love hot weather! So I set up, with my second cold beer (I told you it was HOT!) on my pochade box and begin to paint.
I have to tell you, this is the way to do it people!
Trees are notoriously hard to paint. You wouldn't think so, would you? They seem fairly straightforward. Trunk. Limbs. Leaves. But if you paint them just as you see them they seem stiff and awkward. They lose that poetry and grace that defines them. It is a little like walking a tightrope. You want the structure because it is so appealing but you need to keep the brushstrokes loose to capture the spirit of the tree. This maple also had the lower leaves lit by the sun turning them a lemon yellow to contrast with the blue greens of the trees in the background. Challenging but fun.
I think the beer kept me on track. At least it helped my patience with the mosquitoes! Here is the final painting:
6" x 8" oil on panel - plein air study
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