This is a scene I painted before but with a different color palette and higher-intensity colors. My concept for this one is based on the idea of a tranquil country road, and when I took the photo it felt like a secret, stolen moment because of how quiet it was here.
The composition I chose is mostly based on the O design stem, with a bit of radiating lines. My color strategy was based on capturing the orangey hues of the setting sun with a limited palette of yellow ochre light, cadmium red light, ivory black, and white (in this case I used Utrecht White, a blend of titanium and zinc). Basically it’s the Zorn palette, but with the light version of yellow ochre.
I love the olive green mixes in this palette, and the way the black can read as a blue in this context. The earthy mauves are great, too. In general I enjoyed the experience of not having to fight to lower the intensity of the colors, which is harder with the high-intensity tube colors.
This paper was toned with a yellow ochre and ivory black mixture to a dull mid-value yellow. The block in was done with a mixture of all of the colors in the palette and made a nice warm, low-intensity brown.
Just when I was wrapping up this little painting, I noticed that the road in the distance had ended up dead center. Which is pretty obvious in the block in! It wasn’t hard to move over a bit, but it certainly would have been smarter to address it at the block in stage.
One of my favorite parts of this one is the sky: initially I painted it in a solid light-yellow color. But it just didn’t look right to me. Then I added a bit of more neutralized yellow on the left side. It didn’t look grey at all until I put it on the painting next to the light yellow, when it transformed into a cool color that almost reads as blue. It added just the right amount of subtle temperature contrast while being the same value to make the sky feel complete to me.
One thing I could have done better was to try mixing some red into the yellow-green to heighten the feeling of the time of day.
Something I’ve been experimenting with is to assign specific value numbers to each of the values in my thumbnails, and then mixing up some initial colors that fit in those values. Since I’m doing test swatches anyway, small amounts are being mixed ahead of painting, and this process has helped me stay more organized. So far I’m liking this methodical process, and I think the key to why it’s working for me now and hasn’t worked in the past is that my initial mixes are quite small. That way I can keep adjusting them for variation as I paint, but I’m not starting every mix from ground zero.
I’m very curious to see what kind of palette I go with for the next one, because every day I’m finding new inspiration for combinations to try…