Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Studio Work

Heading for the Light, 12 x 16, oils.
After four back-to-back plein air events I retreated to the studio and it's beckoning climate control. Just like last year, I found that months of painting from life had improved my eye for color, values and brushwork when applied to studio work. I started by going over photos and studies from the last six months. I might spend a whole day playing with photos, re-cropping them and making notes to simplify or move elements. I was also eager to try a new canvas size: 12 x16. It is now my favorite. It's strengths are that it is large enough to take ambitious subjects and have impact on a wall but small enough to finish while the entire painting is still wet. This gorgeous effect is so prized that it has a couple of fancy names: Alla Prima (Italian) and Premier Cru (French.)

The two pieces I completed could not be more different. "Heading for the Light" was based on photos taken on a cold, January hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was one of the most spectacular scenes I have witnessed with my own eyes. I love how Hallett Peak is casting such a defined shadow on Flattop Mountain. "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is from Van Buren, Arkansas at the end of the hottest day of the year. It had hit 114˚F that afternoon and was still in the nineties when I did a plein air study of the side street. The two different colored street lights are the obvious center of interest but what drew me to the scene was the train overpass in the shadows. The final piece is based on the study and photos taken at the time.

Darkness on the Edge of Town, 12 x 16, oils.

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