Painting en plein air forces me to make quick decisions about every aspect of my drawing or painting.  I must move along quickly.  The sun won’t slow down for me no matter how strongly I protest.

United Methodist Church, Washington, NJ sketchbook page

Springtime landscape painting is making me crazy.  I feel as if I have forgotten everything I ever learned.  There are no solid forms; everything is delicate, the lights and darks flickering everywhere without combining into strong, larger shapes.  My eyes and brain needed to go back to basics of value studies.  For several years, I’ve wanted to paint the pink and green granite church across the street from Gibson’s Gym.  I did two quick sketches this morning, one parked across the street from the church and one from the parking lot behind the gym.  The wind was so strong, I painted in the car. I braved the wind later today at Willowwood Arboretum.

United Methodist Church, View from Main Street, Washington, NJ

I spent an hour on this sketch.  When I finally was ready to lay in the value wash of burnt sienna the shadow shapes had changed drastically.  I compromised between the current and former shadow shapes.  I hadn’t indicated enough of the original boundaries of shadows.

I started this blog off with the study of color value.  I keep returning to the idea that the value of a shape is more important than the hue of the shape.  If the value pattern doesn’t work, if it isn’t strong, the best color in the world won’t make the painting work.

Sketchbook value paintings: sketched first in pencil, followed by washes of burnt sienna.

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