I spoke on ‘Keeping a Nature Sketchbook’ at the Pennsylvania Private Forest Landowners’ Conference last weekend. One of the themes I mentioned, and one of the easiest ones to pursue, is simply recording the view out of a window. I often sketch the trees or pasture I can see from my studio space; this particular scene focuses on the tree closest to the window, which sports some subtle mossy bits at key spots. I kept to my winter palette, which will soon be supplanted as spring arrives in full and the sepias and browns give way to prominent shads of green.
We had a fierce storm with microbursts last summer, and a lot of our trees took hits. Our line of Chinese Chestnuts went mostly unscathed, except the one at the end. It survived, but is a bit mangled.
There’s more to the tree than just this, but I wanted to capture the main trunk and branches in the morning light yesterday.
Part of my ‘Bing-a-Day’ (or should I say “almost-a-day”?) initiative to keep myself inspired for 2017. And in keeping ith my pursuit of painting the winter landscape. A beech forest.
A modified view out my studio window towards the pasture and woods, using the limited palette of winter, which I always find pleasing to play with.
(I tried to play with some masking fluid to get some scattered snow, but –once again — got inelegant ‘blobs’ instead..)
I spent yesterday at the Hameau Farm artists’ retreat, organized by Susan Nicholas Gephart, who was there to offer professional guidance along with James Farrah. It was a bit overcast, but the sun did come out for a while. I painted a number of subjects, but spent most of the afternoon producing two variations on a pasture.
The first (and ultimately more successful, I think) had a bit of help from James, after I went to him asking for help in rescuing my work. As usual, I was struggling with values, and, as he pointed out, also had problems with chroma. Some magical strokes later, the work suddenly made sense again. I went back to it today and softened a few of the dark edges, and added just a bit more color to the fall foliage.
The second version I started after my ‘rescue’ consultation, trying a few techniques that James suggested, including painting skies and washes with the side of my brush, and adding more intensity to the sky. (Of course, in this version, it ended up a bit too intense!) But it was a good exercise, and I want to explore this a bit more in the coming weeks. I also need to figure out how to better ground the cows, without getting too focused on their immediate surroundings….