Tyler, an East Texas city about 2 hours west of Dallas, is brilliant in spring. It has deep, rich, red sandy soil with grass that’s always green and trees that reach 50 to 70 feet all over the city. Rose Redmond park is it’s central park with paved paths for joggers, bikers, and tons of dog walkers. It’s always in use. The paths cut through a forest with trees so high, the path is almost always in shade. As I was jogging, I’d come to sections where I’m in the shade and a bright sunlit portion would be ahead. I could feel the warmth just from looking at it. At a few points I simply stopped and spent a minute to mentally try and paint the scene in my mind. I constantly say to myself, “If this was created by God, what brush did he have and what kind of strokes did he use?”. I’ve noticed lately from the Nathan Fowkes class in Schoolism, he says “What is the simple statement? What are the main colors and how do they compare: lighter, darker, warmer, cooler?”. When I begin this conversation (not out loud), all the color combinations pop out and a game plan forms as if I was setting up the easel for the hundredth time. The simple statement of this scene was about the bright warm glow of the sunlit tress and it’s connection to the people walking through it. That’s it. It’s not about the individual trees, not the grass or even the path, just the light and the people. As long as the proportions are mostly correct, the abstract patterns make sense. This is definitely the impression (feel) of the memory I had, which is just as real as the scene itself. Fun!
I finally finished the welding program and shot out of town to visit friends in Tyler, TX. I had a chance to get the kayak out to Lake Tyler where it crosses Hwy 64. The water have risen from recent rains and on the north side of the highway, where it’s “swampy”, 20 acres of area has opened up like a VIP area for kayakers. It’s a great respite tucked away from heavy traffic on the main lake area. Here’s a quick video I did to show you the area:
After getting back home, I noticed Renato Muccillo’s new painting “Rising Thunderheads” and with billowing clouds outside, was inspired to get the kayak out once again. This is out on Lake Stillhouse where the turnoff for the fishing area is. The paper seemed to suck any moisture out of my paints like a parched sponge, but one I got an initial layer of acrylic on there, it was fun. It’s a trick to paint in a kayak. You see that line where the lake water meet the land and needs to be a straight line? That was exactly the moment a huge bass boat sent a monster wake broadside to me. The second try? A boat passed with some screeching girls on one of those towing plastic floats with handles. Eventually, with three applications, I got it. Phew. After they left, the water was calm as the sun began to set. The thin strip of green land really looked like it glowed. If I scale this up, I’ll probably pull that land forward, enlarging it so you can really see the golden light to complement the cobalt blues.
Both lakes had moments of such peace, there is little that can describe it except being immersed in the ever-present stillness of nature. It’s an experience I wish for everyone.
Tyler Lake Painting: The video explains much of the concept. Palette: titan white, cobalt blue, red light hue, hooker’s green, alizarin crimson, cad yellow. Using cobalt blue seems to nail the sky color, adding a touch of red light hue (orange) to it with some white to mute and lighten it toward the horizon. The clouds themselves are just mixes of cobalt blue and the orange and lighting them with white. If you do a simple gradient of those two colors, I bet you’ll like the soft grey that form, looking a lot like the actual underside color of clouds. The darks of the trees were mixes of alizarin crimson and hookers green and I added yellow to get the brights. The distant trees were the same, but with cobalt blue added to distance them. One other note is that I used the orange in the mix to get the color of the weeds on the water, which really tied in the colors in the clouds, producing a harmony.
Stillhouse Lake painting: titan white, cobalt blue, right light hue (orange), paynes grey, cad yellow. I really punched the contrast in the clouds and decreased contrast of the rest of the painting to make the eye move upwards. Also, this is one more area where gesture drawing in life drawing classes has really helped to capture the “movement” of the clouds. If you don’t already, I encourage you to practice this, even though it’s not landscape drawing. I can sense the difference this makes when I’m painting now. The clouds used the same cobalt, orange, titanium mix as the previous painting, just in different values. Tim Gagnon has a good YouTube video on doing clouds. It was really hard to keep the strip of land so thin, but that’s actually the way it is in the scene. The other difficult part is how muted the greens were, despite seeming to be very green. Holding your brush with the mixed color up to the scene will help identify this. As always, please comment with painting tips if you see something that’ll help! Thanks!
Now get out there and paint! 🙂
While I’m up visiting friends in Tyler, I had a chance to get outdoors and paint. This area is at the pond in Faulkner Park (South Tyler). The ducks there are perfect photo posers, sleeping when I’m 5 feet away. After some reference pics, I found some reeds near the shoreline with a great backdrop of pines. Sure enough, the duck didn’t have enough of the photo ops and paddled by. For those of you who also paint outdoors reading this, here’s a great technical tip. It started out overcast and the regular acrylics worked fine. Once the sun came out, I switched to Golden Open acrylics, which stay “wet” longer. It worked perfectly drying normally on the canvas, but staying workable on the pallet.
Two of my friends, Elaine and Clint, got married the past weekend in Tyler, TX. I lived there for nearly 10 years and I consider this my “home town”. When I’m away, I’m wondering how my friends are for real, and not just what I read on Facebook. Its truly a beautiful area with tall East Texas pines, green grass, a spring fed lake at Tyler State Park and rivers/creeks everwhere. There’s a very real “pull” to find a way to live there again. This was a great weekend to get in a couple plein air sketches or paintings, which ever there was time for. Rose Redmond is a lush green park in the middle of Tyler. It’s has about 3 mile of paved track that’s popular with runners, bikers, groups walking, etc..
On Friday, I took the art pack on the track and quickly found a small bridge over a creek with a small pavillion and bench in the background. I had about 2 hours before my friend got off of work to play our traditional 80’s video game that has become a strong tradition on each visit. The ladies hate it; it’s a guy thing. Here’s the first color sketch below:
On leaving I heard two young women walkers yelp, followed by an “AWWWWWWW.”. Looking about thirty feet down the path, I saw a baby raccoon about the size of small football moving slowly trying to find help. We went into “team save-a-baby-raccoon” mode corralling it with shoes, backpacks, purses, even cell phones. It impressive how people coordinate without question. I kept it from going into the forest (to die) pushing it back with a Gatorade bottle. It’s would rear back with hair raised and try to hiss and look mean, only to attract more “AWWWW, how cuuuute” from the ladies. Ha. Poor little fella.
Animal rescue came and said it treats them all the time, so this little guy will have many trashcan raid in it’s future. Always an adventure. It was really busy until Tuesday when I had a few hours before driving back home. I’d wanted to paint the Southside Park at Rose Redmond, which is the most poplar area of the trail. In the mid-morning light, the background trees are shades of blue-gray with a hint of green and the foreground trees really stand out. Plus, it’s a great change to plug in people in the painting. It took about 4 hours to finish enough to add the last minor touches back home. Storm clouds were rolling in that changed the lighting continuously, but I think I captured the light in the sun and the feel of this much loved park.