Another great morning painting outdoors

landscape study - plein air at Carroll Joyner Park Jun 30 2019
Happily painting away in the shade

It was a treat to be able to paint outdoors two days in a row. I went back to the same park and chose a new location to set up my box, next to a taller tree than yesterday for more shade. I intended to paint the pond but couldn’t find an interesting enough composition that wasn’t in full sun. Just down the path from the pond was a spot that caught my eye — cool, bright shadows raking across the grass, with a path leading back to a shaded area in the woods.

I liked the contrast between the trees in bright morning sunlight and the darker wooded area and positioned that as my focal point using the rule of thirds as a guide. The thumbnail sketch I started with helped me work through angles the foreshortened path and value structure. I almost skipped that step so I could just start painting, but I’m glad I didn’t because without doing that bit of prep work I would have struggled my way through the whole experience.

I stuck with the same palette and block-in approach from yesterday, but changed my painting medium a bit. Instead of a 50/50 Gamsol/linseed oil mix, I used a tiny bit of Gamsol for the block in but mostly kept it on the dry side. And as I painted, I used linseed oil to loosen the paint. This texture was nice to work with and I want to try using it some more to see if it can give me better results. I’m learning that the texture of the paint is such a personal thing and what works great for one painter might not work as well for me.

color block-in - plein air at Carroll Joyner Park Jun 30 2019
Average colors and values blocked in

A couple of other things I want to experiment with are the color of my canvas and the color I use for the drawing on it. Today I used burnt umber on a white (untoned) canvas and didn’t like how the cool shadow colors mixed with the earthy brown. It would be different if the cool colors were painted opaquely next to the earth color, but today they just mixed together and the shadow colors were dulled.

I’m curious to see how this average color block-in approach would work on a pre-toned canvas — like grey, burnt umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, or transparent earth red. I think I have some direction for my next several paintings!

landscape study - plein air at Carroll Joyner Park Jun 30 2019
“Bright Spot”, 8×10 oil on canvas panel