Saturday, July 10, 2010

Classroom: Trees Bank

Last night was my first night attending the Plein Air classroom taught by Karen Winslow. The class is taught on Friday night's and the purpose is to take advantage of the longer days to paint sunsets/etc.

As with still lives, you are still massing the objects, but, the trick comes into reducing the complexity of the world around you. In addition, the lighting conditions change rapidly (as in this case).

When I first started laying out my basic masses, the trees were extremely bright and there was a bright white set of clouds above the mountain. After laying down the masses, the white clouds gave way to mid-tone greyish clouds and the bright light was gone. It never returned. Fortunately, I had already decided where the light was coming from, such that I could make the necessary adjustments to the painting without the actual highlights.

Two points that Karen emphasized: linking the shadows/lights together and using reds/pinks for the bank mud, rather than the dullish brown. In the first case, I wanted the trees to stand out as a mass of individual trees, but not be distinct objects. To do this, I toned the entire area with a mid-value green and then linked the dark sections together so that they flowed evenly. Once the dark sections were linked, I did the same with the light sections, and, finally, adding the highlights for the tree tops (since that was where the sun was hitting).

For the bank, at first, I was giving it various values of burnt umber and burnt sienna/yellow ochre. Karen explained how adding more reds/pinks/purples would make the area stand out as a sloping bank. I tried this and it worked beautifully.

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