The hills surrounding Santa Rosa feel like kindred spirits.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, California

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, California

Live oaks and black oaks, solitary and in clusters,  populate the erratic hillsides declaring their uniqueness and beauty.  The winter colors are rich with muted blue/greens and red/violets, so different from the winter colors of New Jersey.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, CA – watercolor on Rives BFK printmaking paper.  Limited palette: Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Carmine.

When I’m traveling and painting, it takes about three days for me to adjust my palette to the location and seasonal light upon the landscape.

Baccharis in bloom and pines

Though I’ve painted in Tyaskin, MD before, it’s always been in spring or summer.  The beauty of Baccharis in bloom against the autumn colors of pines, phragmites, meadow grasses and marsh is absolutely stunning.

Late afternoon light filtering through the forest

Every direction I turn, I see the opportunity to explore the autumn light bouncing off of indigenous plants, delighting my eyes with new and unfamiliar patterns and shapes.

K-car as en plein air studio

When time is short and the light is changing quickly, I skip setting up my easel.  The trunk of my K-car works just fine.

Anita’s meadow, Tyaskin, MD

I couldn’t resist one last painting as the late afternoon glow was fading…..

Baccharis in bloom and Phragmites

Just as I’m beginning to mix my colors intuitively, my visit to Maryland draws to a close.  Without doubt, I’ll return next October.  Not only is it exquisitely beautiful …… I can paint outside without covering myself in bug spray!

Color studies:  en plein air oil paintings, 5″ x 5″ on gessoed wood panels.

Autumn is a perfect time of year to focus on the illusions created by high contrast values.  Watercolor is my choice of mediums for color/value studies that will result in capturing that gorgeous glow of sunlight passing through the translucent oak leaves of yellow and orange.

Oak Leaves at 3 pm, bathed in sunlight

Neutrals of the palette strengthen the apparent brilliance of fully saturated colors, creating an even stronger illusion of sunlight passing through translucent oak leaves in the late afternoon.

Watercolor weather journaling could easily become one more of my obsessions.

Just Before the Crack of Dawn

Each morning I wait a little longer for the crack of dawn.  The painting above was done at 6:45 am.  Within thirty minutes the illumination of the morning light as it filtered through the cloud cover transformed the dark purples into forest greens.

Shortly After the Crack of Dawn

By 7:15 am the trees were a dark green, dampened by the morning rain. The cornfield was doing its best to approach yellow ochre. I opted not to include the colors of the dried corn this time around.

Today is not June 13th.

Summer Trees, Color Scheme Game

When steadying my hand, I rested my finger in the not-yet-dry area of the pine trees on the left.  Rather than leave simple shapes, I interrupted the flow with small, do-nothing, busy indications of tree limbs in the large, foreground tree.  My scanner ignored the blue in the blue/green areas of the painting and turned them Kelly Green instead.  I dated the morning sketch as 6.13.12 and it is June 12th.

Things could be worse.

I’m going back out onto the front porch to start the day again.

Sketchbook drawing: Color Scheme Game – Analogous with split complements, Dominant Color is yellow/green.  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Rome Burning ink, followed by watercolor washes.

Frank went ahead and played with the painting anyway.  I never would have thought to take out the huge tree …  but I like the result.

Without the large tree

Thanks, Frank!

See yesterday’s post to view the original sketchbook painting as well as the digital revision without the stone wall and fence. Yesterday’s Post.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor playing the Color Scheme Game to determine the colors. (Analogous with split complements)

This post is for Frank.  I knew that if I mentioned that I didn’t like the end result with the stone wall and picket fence, he would correct it digitally for me and show me what it would like like without them.  I decided to go ahead and do the elimination for myself to save him the time.

‘After the Storm’ without digital removal of wall and fence

The Color Scheme is Analogous with split complements, orange as the dominant color.  I liked the patterns when it was just an ink drawing.  When I added the watercolor, I felt the stone wall and fence did nothing for the composition or the mood of the sketch.

“After the Storm’ without the stone wall

Still too busy.  The fence is distracting.

‘After the Storm’ without wall or fence

Much better!

Plein Air Sketchbook Painting: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.  Color scheme is based on the throw of the twelve-sided die: Analogous with split complements, orange dominating (Red Orange, Orange, Yellow Orange with Violet Blue and Blue Green)

Here are a few photos of the monochromatic wall mural in progress:

Monochromatic Dining Room Wall Mural

Left corner of wall mural

Close up of trees

We hope to finish on Wednesday.

Dining Room Wall Mural: painted in latex paint

The variations of greens in the landscape is both fantastic and challenging.

Muddy Hole Road, en plein air landscape oil painting, 6″ x 12″

The day was overcast, the light beautiful yet flat.  The challenge was to create the illusion of space within areas of similar hue (green) and similar value (mid-value range).  I premixed about eight piles of greens on my palette, variations of warm and cool greens of slightly different values.  With these piles to easily dip into, I responded more intuitively to the landscape in front of me, not having to stop to refocus on mixing paint.  I easily varied the mixes by adding a bit from other piles without being concerned that the new mix might not be harmonious. I could focus on what, for me, is a bigger challenge …… painting the tops of trees where the light flickers through between the tips of branches and leaves  revealing bits and pieces of the sky.  It is so easy to get overly fussy and create stiff-looking trees.  I was pleased that I retained the airy feeling of the trees in this little painting, as well as the cool green grassiness of the phragmites leaves in the foreground.

painting: plein air landscape, oil painting, 6″ x 12″ canvas, painted over a terra rosa underpainting wash.

Again I squeezed out the colors I used for my Richard Schmid Color Charts: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Terra Rosa, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Viridian, Manganese Blue and French Ultramarine Blue.

En Plain Air landscape, oil painting, 14" x 14" on board 'Backyard Hedgerow'

After the fact, I realized I never dipped into the Cadmium Yellow,Cadmium Red Light or the Burnt Sienna.  My greens are all variations of mixing Cadmium Lemon, Viridian and White.  The light, cool green is just Viridian with White.  Violets are mixes of Viridian and Alizarin Crimson.  The Grays are mixes of Terra Rosa with either Viridian, Manganese Blue or French Ultramarine Blue plus White.  All of my mixes consisted of no more than two colors, not counting white.

The color scheme turns out to be a modified triad, greens on the cool side, violets on the warm side and blues.  My focus was on mixing the values carefully.

By using a large palette I was able to judge my mixes against each other as I mixed them.  I found that I threw out all of the mixes in which I used Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red Light or Burnt Sienna.  Those are great colors, but they didn’t work with this painting.  Browns, reds and super warm greens stuck out like a sore thumb on the palette.  Fortunately I didn’t apply any to the painting.