Last week I took only a pencil and paper to plein air sketch and re-learn to see the world in values (not colors). It really helped today. There was a very brief moment of sun around 3:30 and despite barely being able to put on my socks from a hurt back, I eventually found a comfortable postion in my truck and headed to Pergatory Creek Natural Area in San Marcos, TX. Hobbling from Dante’s Trail up to Nimrod Trail (all the trails are named after Dante’s Inferno series), I was amazed at how many college women were out jogging. I tried to straighten up and look manly, but then I sneezed wrenching my back and almost hit the ground. I gave up the manliness and hobbled to a spot that looked like it would be a good drawing. It had great contrast in values and, hey, it’s bluebonnet season. All painters know not to pass it up.
It had a nice design to it, so I re-drew it very quickly onto the acrylic paper and brushed Matte Media over it to seal the dry paper and sketch. I also discovered that doing a pre-sketch helped to decide what format is best (rectangle in portrait, landscape, or more square). That can make a big difference in the “feel” of the final painting.
With a solid sketch, and studying the scene, I was focused. I didn’t paint while saying,”How am I going to paint this?”, but just followed my own notes. My 6:00, it was done and that was a very good thing. Storm clouds rolled in blocking the sun and all the prancing college women darted down the trail to get back to the parking lot. I kept a steady hobble pace and was glad the clouds of impending doom didn’t burst into a downpour.
Fun day! We’re studying values in the Virtual Art Academy online. No doubt now that it’s helping! I recommend it if you’re looking for a serious and structured way to learn.
Artist Chat: Titanium White, Ultramarine blue, Cad yellow hue, Orange, pthalo green, alizarin crimson red and yellow ochre. The pthalo green and alizarin crimson red make a very dark green-gray, which really made the light paddles of the cactus stand out. The yellow ochre, ultramarine and yellow made for the highlights in the cedars branches behind the cactus. I kept the cedar branches somewhat abstract because it was only supporting the main figures, which were the cactus and bluebonnets. It was tempting to make the grass much greener, but by muting it with some orange, it make the bluebonnet color pop a bit more. Oh, bluebonnets are actually a bit more purple than ultramarine, but I decided to keep it simple and just use mixes of ultramarine and white for the flowers.