Yesterday afternoon I took my easel into the back yard. I almost never do this... in the past, it's been a less-than satisfactory experience. There's always too much sun, too much wind, too much uneven ground, etc. etc. etc. However -- since I've enrolled in a three-day July workshop with Tony van Hasselt, which will include daily excursions to paint en plein air, I'm determined to conquer my aversion to working anywhere but indoors.
|plein air sketch|
Our property is not large, and it's anything but sylvan. (Our neighborhood is more like a John Cheever-suburban-backyards concept, minus the in-ground swimming pools...)
But, we do have a few picturesque "Palace Purple" variety Huechera, one of which is a volunteer, growing out of a crack in the stone retaining wall.
Yesterday's mid-afternoon sun was very bright, so the cast shadows of the foliage were dark and well-defined, and the highlights/colors colors vivid. A
great, naturally occuring set-up for my plein air exercise.
So, this morning I did an outline drawing of all the leaves, and then did a small value sketch using water-soluble graphite pencils (a wonderful tool!). After sketching it in roughly, i used a small brush charged with a bit of water to smooth out the sketch details. The value sketch is an important step along the way to a finished painting -- and it's one I've too-often omitted.
I'm using a 16" x 23" piece of 300-lb. Arches paper. Although the package is labelled "cold press" it seems almost like a "rough" sheet. This is advantageous, I believe, since it will provide an easier way to render the foliage highlights, and the myriad details of the stone wall background.
|Value sketch, done with water-soluble graphite pencils (light, medium, and dark)|
I've started with a mottled wash of the stone wall, using a combination of French ultramarine and sepia. This is my favorite duo for producing grey (altho there are a lot of other two-color combos that result in grey, as well). I used a 1" angled flat brush to do the background, and cut around all the foliage. I purposely did an uneven wash, as I don't want the stone's surfaces to appear flat.
|"Rock Wall Shadows" |
Click the link to purchase this painting at my Daily Paintworks gallery