Sunday, April 27, 2014

Learning to Paint Landscapes

The landscape here in upstate New York is just beginning to green. Hardly a bud on a tree, it's as bleak as November before the first snow. Everything is gray and brown and quite uninspiring. A few intrepid daffodils have managed to bloom in sunny spots but that's about it. Even the forsythia is barely a yellow haze.

I'm stall walking and anxious to get out and practice what I've been studying intensely all winter. My first plein air painting competition looms in early June and I need to "practice." The challenge is to find something beautiful amongst all this taupe. Each of the sketches below took about an hour and a half as I'm also attempting to increase my speed.

This old barn down a dirt road is flanked by corn fields with short, dead stalks. It's abandoned, used to be a horse hospital and the local farmer said it was okay to check it out. Sure enough, it's a rambling structure of rows of box stalls well-built with craft and care. Only the swifts live there now. I warmed the dead grass and exaggerated the bits of green poking through.
9"x12" oil on paper, plein air
Off to the woods to see if I can simplify an overload of information and paint more convincing rocks. In both paintings the light is overcast with the sun rarely peeking through .
12"x9" oil on paper, plein air
They're not great, but I'm learning from each one. From this sketch I realize I should choose one focal point, paint it clearly and then treat everything else as minor supporting elements. As you can see, I'm still wearing my down vest. This will go down as the year of no spring.

Colorfully yours,

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