Photographs as reference materials can be extremely distracting.

Villeneuve, France - oil on canvas 24" x 36"

This painting is based on two photographs taken while in France with Mlle. Jane in the spring of 2009.  The photos were taken on two different days at two different times of day.  One day was sunnier than the other creating a warmer color scheme.  The second photo was taken later in the day creating more interesting shadow patterns.

In spite of my careful preliminary drawing to establish the shadow patterns and values that I wanted in the painting, I found that referring to both photographs led me astray over and over again, confusing both the color scheme and the light source.

Eventually I abandoned the photographs and looked only at the painting making the necessary adjustments to pull it all together.  I prefer not to work from photographs, but painting large paintings while traveling is always difficult if not impossible.

For the past year I focused on mixing clean color using only two (maximum three) colors, as well as studying color as light waves.  Understanding how the light sources (the sun and the sky) effect the landscape helped me to see the warm and cool variations of leaves in light, turning from light, out of light as well as the changes of color and value due to the transparency of leaves.  The Villeneuve painting tested my understanding of the science of color.  I found that I enjoyed painting the vines and bushes more than I’ve ever enjoyed painting green leaves before.  I will no longer be intimidated by summer greens.

I posted several of the earlier sketches and stages of this painting in earlier posts and on my other blog.

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