Saturday, July 25, 2015

Light and Shadow

This is an example of a plein air painting that I began in the field and finished at home in my studio. I'm not always able to finish my outdoor studies. Sometimes the weather changes. Other times I spend too long on the details and the light changes so much I find myself doing what's known as "chasing the light."

For whatever reason, there are always going to be paintings that look great and need no modifications when you view them later, and there will be painting that need touch ups. Some plein air artists are purists. They won't modify a painting. Instead they will call it a field study and perhaps create a new painting using the study as a basis for color and value.

I'm not a purist. I don't want ugly paintings hanging out near me, so I will try to bring the painting to a place where it satisfies me. I've learned that I have to do this within a few days of painting the subject outdoors or my visual memory of the scene is likely to be gone. I also need a photograph if there was architecture or a building in the scene, to double check the perspective.

In this painting of a light post at Lakeside, Ohio, I knew I wanted to define the curves on the decorative roof accents and lighten the areas in the sun.

I'm displaying a photo of the finished painting, along with the photo I took as a reference to show the finished piece is not a photographic rendering. I maintained the structure, design and hues of the original and only used the photo as a guide to render the building more accurately and to place my shadows consistently. That's one problem with painting outdoors: your shadows will always move when you're painting on a sunny day.

Sunny Day Lakeside
9" x 12"

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