Perhaps this Challenge exercise is a good thing then... because I truly find myself more engaged and in touch with the clock and even more closely attuned to weather conditions around me while I am painting. I make quicker decisions about beginning or ending sessions than before and I find that I am using more common sense in how long I push on with my painting. Too many times in the past, while painting en plein air, I would let my passion for painting override common sense. On more than a few occasions, I put myself into situations and places that were either riskier than they should have been... or my lack of communication about more exact timing and location was worrisome to those who awaited my return. I have worked at that in the past few years. In this project, it has been my priority and I have adhered to "the plan" stated clearly before heading out. In most cases... like this morning, I actually shortened the outing and came back earlier than scheduled... choosing to finish at home.
I had decided early this morning that I would do the "short walk" around the perimeter of the village. It is a comfortable distance of about three kilometers which follows a walking path up behind the churches and down along the Old River Road across the Parkway back to Front Street on which we live. It is an interesting route as is protected from gusty winds and for the most part, is quiet with little or no car traffic. I had only climbed the high steps to the promontory overlooking the River at St Brendan's Church and gone a few dozen paces up River Road... when I came across a lovely sunlit path and stone fence entry into a now vacated summer property...vacant until summer returns. I looked at the scene before me briefly and immediately knew that I should reshuffle the deck and return home for my gear. This would be today's Challenge site.
Deb had gone off to do errands, so the vehicle was gone. She was aware that I would do the short walk and then head out to do my painting session. So I quickly gathered together my "short kit"... my plein trip "carry on." I had readied the kit before I had gone out so I wasted little time fetching it and headed off at a trot back to the location. As is the usual case in winter, the light had changed in that very short time. The scene was not as visually exciting at the moment, as it had been previously. Weather changes quickly during winter. I had brought along my camera (tucked inside my mackinaw to keep it from the cold) to await the return of the lighting conditions from before.
I set up quickly and in a short time dropped in the basic line map to guide my lay in. I had, due in my quick exit from the basement to get underway... forgotten to bring along my brush cleaning can and solvent. So I selected three brushes... two flats and a small flat (turned by lengthy service) into a snub-nosed bright. These would have to suffice for painting tools today.This strategy I hoped would lessen the need to clean my brushes... except by using shop towelling. The lay in proceeded without difficulty and the paint "behaved itself" this morning. The sun did appear briefly... long enough to obtain a good reference photo. At the one hour point, snow began flurrying and the sky darkened. I knew that real snow would soon be on the scene... and on my palette as well. I had reached that crucial lay in stage however... where all of the necessary structure and nuances of high interest are recorded sufficiently to allow one to finish in the warmth of the studio. So I headed off home... content with the makings for a successful Challenge project #6 in hand.
My challenge for the day focused upon my need to "peek through" a maze of trees and information to isolate what I was interested in. As well, I eliminated what broke up patterns or shapes that I wished to be central and prominent in the final impression. Too much detail in between me and the subject... the yellow house would be a distraction. So my challenge was to reduce the scene to what I considered pleasing essentials... and to highlight those characteristics using light and shadow.
Since my photo references did not capture the initial strong lighting effects, I decided to use my own experience in the field and intuition to create that ambiance and drama that struck me dead in my tracks this morning. As I previously mentioned... the weather in winter changes incessantly and late in the day the cloud cover departed and the sun returned. The snow moved off at the same time. I decided to lace up and head back up to the site for another look and took along my camera. I returned after I made the circuit that I had abandoned in the morning and found that the lighting in the new photo did in fact have good strength and visual appeal. However... I have left the image as it was after an hour of reworking back in the studio. For now... I think it works... but it is interesting perhaps for you to see how closely intuition resembles reality in both. This is the value of gathering plein air painting experience. The knowledge continues to be held in one's visual memory and can be recalled and put into use randomly... as the need occurs.
I hope that you enjoy seeing the process in this Day #6 Challenge!
Good Painting!...to ALL!!
The chosen site... without lighting... a little on ther drab side!
A bit better,,, with diffuse lighting... but not dramatic!
My "short kit" set up...already into action!
Lay ikn reached... just as the snow begins. Time to pack up!
"Shadowland on River Road, Rockport" - plein air oil on toned 9x12 inch panel after completion in the studio
End of day lighting... active... bright and full of contrasts! Maybe I shoiuld add a bit! I'll letv that idea perc a bit!