Monday, November 26, 2012

Experimenting with the Sunset

Yesterday I attending my local life drawing session in the morning so I decided to try my first attempt at painting a plein air sunset over the ocean. I also decided to try an experiment. I have often used an undercoat or toning layer before starting a painting. If I am doing a still life the color could be one that compliments the general color in the set up or an overall tone or mood I wish to set. There are many different reasons. I thought I would try that on the sky portion of my painting. I got to my usual spot about 3 pm to give me a chance to study the waves, do a thumbnail/notan sketch and decide on my composition. I know that the sunset colors over the ocean here are usually warm reds, yellows, greens and cool blues. I decided to tone the sky area with a cool blue which would be the compliment to the red-oranges that usually flair up in the sunset. So while I was putting in a few wave structures and wet sand area, my sky was a bright and rather garish pthalo blue. Once the event started happening I started laying the color over the top of that. As usual, a painter has to work fast to try to capture it so the painting isn't the best but I got the bones of it. On top of everything, another person came up to me right in the thick of the action to ask me about my set up, life drawing session details, etc. Turns out he was a college art teacher, drawing and watercolor. OK, I ask you, does it get more distracting than that? It was a tad stressful. I kept working as I chatted and he eventually left me to it. Here is what I have at the moment:
A very raw and first attempt at a plein air sunset.
Another challenge I had was the light shining right in my eyes. I would squint against the light looking at the colors, look back to my painting and only see spots. I am going to have to look into that. There might be a trick to it that I haven't heard. That smooshed shape in the lower right is a rock. It was nicely painted but I ran right over it when I was laying down the sunset color. The distant ocean isn't the right color either. That was mainly because it was so hard to see the color due to the setting sun in my eyes while looking back and forth. I am going to play with this one in the studio tomorrow afternoon. Overall, it was a fun experience and I am going to regroup and try it again soon. I stayed until 4:45pm or so and left when the sun had mostly gone down. The afterglow as lovely but that east wind (which comes off the coastal range) kicked up fierce and cold so I did not stay.
I did do a little bit of reworking to the previous painting. I am not doing a lot because these are studies and reference paintings, not finished works. Here was the painting as I showed it last post:
The day after, wave study 5
The Day After, wave study 5, 6"x8" oil on hemp canvas
First, to remind you the first picture was taken on a very dark day under indoor lights and wasn't really that great. The second picture was taken in indirect natural light. The work I did was in the foreground. I reshaped the cross waves a bit and corrected the lights and darks. I also made the shadows in the whole picture a warm green gray since the the whole day was a study in cool gray with no direct sunlight. I had forgotten that rule in the distraction of painting in a storm but my artist friend Renee Lammers reminded me of it. I didn't do much but it makes a bit of a difference.
I took a day off to get a few things organized and catch up on chores. I plan to be out everyday over the next 5 days. I also have some new synthetic brushes to try out from Rosemary & Co. I have heard a lot of good things about them. I will keep you posted!


Tito Champena said...

Painting outdoors is the most difficult form of painting in my estimation. Because the light and the colors keep changing by the minute plus you have to fight the elements, including curious people.
Congratulations for the courage. It dsprilitidn't comeback too bad for being the first time. It will get better with practice.

Theresa said...

If you ever decide to sell those wave studies drop me a line.:-) I just love them! The sunset, it's wonderful but I know you'll improve and I hope you do post them side by side by side so we can all see the leaps and bounds you are making in skills!

R. Delight said...

Hi Tito, thanks for the encouragement! It is indeed challenging but I truly do love it. Thankfully I built up my skills these past few years so hopefully I will learn plein air fast. Fast or slow, doesn't really matter though, I am in if for the long run. Take care and thanks for the comment!

R. Delight said...

Hi Theresa, thanks so much for you lovely comment. Others have asked me the same question. I might sell the final 25 out of this first 100. I am going to paint more finished paintings in the studio using these studies instead of photos as reference. I will be posting a picture of my bulletin board that I am pinning all of the studies too when I have painting number 10. If all goes well, that will be this weekend! It is a good way to see improvement but also to see what areas need to be worked on. I have to run but hope to catch up on what is going on at Camp Runamuck soon! -Renee

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