Plein Air: LaGrange View from Monument Hill

16x20" Oil. Here's the unfinished painting.  Still need to add figures once I study them more.
16×20″ Oil. Here’s the unfinished painting. Still need to add figures once I study them more.

As usual, for the story keep reading.  If you just want to see the painting stuff, go to the end.

I had a chance to swing by Monument Hill State Historic Park for some plein air painting on my way home.  The ranger (who had to boot me out at 5 last time) deemed me “the artist” with a smile.  I set up to paint the famous scene overlooking LaGrange and the river with the truss bridge over the Colorado River in the distance. The clouds were thick and the sun peeked through holes casting a spotlight over the landscape.  When it hits just right, it lights a thin strip of land with the truss bridge so brightly it appears to glow.

The clouds created a spotlight effect as it moved across the land.
The clouds created a spotlight effect as it moved across the land.

As I was painting a crowd came over from the Fayette County Fairgrounds where it was a “65th twins birthday” drawing the onlookers.  One little girl said, “I take art at school, and you need to add the bridge.  It’s not there.”. Indeed, she was right and for a moment she and I looked at the scene to discuss the nuances of art.  Kids are awesome. If there’s something to say, they say it.  A bit later, one of “the twins” came over and started chatting with me.  When my motor speech started to play games with me, I explained I’m recovering from a brain tumor.  He stared for a moment, and his son came over, bald as a cue-ball.  He just got through with his second round of chemo and radiation for colon cancer at 37 years old. (I’m 36).  It was quite a profound chat with few words and an clear understanding that we both share the same reality.  We both talk in the present and are squeezing the most possible out of life everyday.  His Dad was heading back to the car and his son ran the long trail-loop around.  His Dad didn’t understand, but we did.  It was because he can and there’s no time like now to do it. Simple.

Plein air painting is always an adventure as you can tell.  Painting is just a small part of it.

Okay, Painting Stuff:

Here’s my painting surplus quickly spilling over taking up the surrounding lawn .

My set-up with the finished color-sketch and the view
My set-up with the finished color-sketch and the view

One gadget that fellow plein air artists will love is a simple glass panel with Gorilla Tape on the outside.  Put a dab of paint on the pane and match it to the scene.  If your color OR value are off, you’ll quickly know it! Here I’m trying to match up the distant horizon color:

IMG_4396

This is a quick progression slideshow from the plein air to the subsequent, larger oil painting done at home. The big painting is unfinished as I still need to add figures in the foreground.  Once I do some more figure studies, I’ll post the final painting up.

Progression Slideshow:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TmjijsTVHE

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