Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Waning Light of Summer

    Shrinking Lily Pads, oil on denim, 9x12

        I sketched the oil above primarily as a color study yesterday.  At this pond (Belleville Pond in North Kingstown, RI) one could see the marsh grasses turning from green to gray-green to golden yellow and ochre.  I began the painting with three under washes of pale blue, violet blue and a deeper violet blue from top of the canvas to the bottom, respectively.  Some rubbing out in selected areas of the wash was done before the addition of a first layer of color.  The sun, the source of light was at the upper left in the sky, and as it began its westward journey, more color and value secrets were revealed.  I noticed, for example, that the pads became almost translucent at their turned-up ends, allowing in some cases a yellow/orange passage of light. The most hardy swamp blossom was still lovely, one standing tall above the water, but another, seemingly exhausted, was sprawled upon a lily pad.  Some buds were like triangles piercing the surface.   In the foreground there were very small pads, perhaps children to the larger, more mature pads.  Even in this waning summer spectacle, the pond is a joy to paint!

   A Gusty sundown, oil on board, 9x12

     The painted sketch above was meant to be finished in situ, but the wind --which gusted to about 35 mph or more-- had other ideas.  Sunsets at West Ferry in Jamestown usually allow the painting of tranquil scenes.  In this case low hanging clouds, ominous and threatening , moved in over the background allowing a rather dramatic strip of light along the horizon and some cloud shadow.  In addition the Dutch Island light almost blended in mysteriously with the background.  All these elements must be quickly put down since the light changes rapidly toward the end of day.  But in the bursts of wind I had to use one hand to steady the easel.  So now the painting rests on my studio easel where, hopefully, a Mahl stick can help me toward a steadier finish.

    Scarborough View, oil on linen, 9x12

     At sScarborough Beach it was a pleasure to attempt the small sketch above.  This was again a somewhat experimental piece using a classical palette initially followed immediately with a more colorful  version.  This method of working is difficult since the under painting is not quite dry when the more vibrant colors are added.  If one is careful to avoid too much mixing with the earth-toned underpainting, colorful and yet realistic effects can be achieved.

   Fox Hill Salt Marsh, oil on canvas, 9x12

Another joy to paint was the late afternoon light at Fox Hill Salt Marsh at Ft. Getty in Jamestown, RI.  Here,again, the experimental approach mentioned above was attempted.

  The painting sites and approaches described in my series of blogs will be on the menu for a plein-air workshop I will begin conducting next Wednesday (23 Sept, 3-6PM) under the sponsorship of the South County Art Association.