When I was unhappy with my clouds in “Storm Approaching” there was some extra time, so I figured I would try another clouds/mountains landscape. This one is it, and I’m happier with the clouds because they are expressed confidently and freshly. But the rest of it? hmmm….I think the mountains are a bit wonky as is the cloud shadow, but regardless. it is what it is!!
The last workshop day (Friday) was plein air and it was a chilly, windy, cloudy, spitting rain cold day for here. We were huddled under a shade structure watching the demo and trying to scout out places to paint. I wished I had brought a hat and gloves! You can see the earlier cool of the day in the photo of birds in the desert brush. This might be an interesting photo to paint from some day.
Michael gave us a several good tips on finding a subject when painting plein air: Look for the area of deepest contrast and work out your back, middle and foreground. Move around other components, like trees or bushes, from elsewhere in the landscape if they make the composition more effective. Also if you’re doing architecture, roofs are lighter than you think because they reflect the sky. I guess now is a great time to say that he has a new book coming out in February where all the stuff he drilled into us, and tons more I’m sure, will be in.
Eventually the weather warmed up and the sun came out, followed by sprinkles, and it was a beautiful afternoon. I think I was just tired from the whole four days and the driving and parenting stuff in the evenings, and didn’t want to do another landscape. They’re not really what I’m passionate about.
So with his cautions I tackled a more difficult subject, santa rita prickly pear plants that were getting old and tough. And because it was plein air, I sketched a value sketch but didn’t take a photo. Silly me. Those cactus pads are pink/purplish when fresh, and as they age, these ones got very cool gradations of peachs/lime greens/purples/browns, and they really drew my eye. They were sprawled on the ground and a challenge to work out (invent) a foreground and background.
So in the end, it was an off day. I didn’t come out with something I’m proud of, but I sure did have fun mixing deep colors wet in wet and playing on how to pull out edges to make the stiff bristly bits on the edges of the pads.
On the left is a play piece I made and then on the right, the not -so-fresh planned one heavily cropped!! but still, it was fun, and I was proud of myself for persevering to get something halfway representative. And yes, on more than one bush, I’ve seen prickly pads that are distinct heart shapes, as the little one here in the center.
And I had my first sighting of the year of white crowned sparrows (winter visitors) squeaking to each other in the brush, and a I had to shade my eyes from the warm fall sun to get a gorgeous sighting of a hawk (either sharp shinned hawk or coopers) flying low overhead. WOW! you can’t get better than that for a day that started out dismally!