Evening is my favorite time of the day to be painting. The light is luminous and the shadows are deep. Best of all, I have to put myself on auto pilot and just paint; no second guessing, no overthinking. Why? The light is fading fast forcing me to make decisions and stay with them. Otherwise I can get caught in the plein air landscape painter's trap of chasing the light.
The painting above was done on my recent trip to Utah. The sun was just setting. Cottonwoods were catching the last direct rays and were lit up to a chome yellow and the field in front of them was still sunny. Everything else was in that sort of early evening mountain shadow where they were gently illuminated by the reflected light from the sky.
The painting above was done another day but also in the early evening. (Actually it is the third painting done the day I painted the two from the last post.) As you can see, neither has much blue in the sky. Just a faint bit in the part farthest from the sun. So the yellow light of the sky is present in the rest of the landscape and influenced my choice of pigments. Doing a bit of forensics will help me remember my instinctive, auto-pilot choices since I foolishly did not take good notes. Now that I'm back home and attempting some studio paintings with these as reference I sure wish I know exactly what I used. Another lesson learned.
Here is a lesson I did learn: The advice that one should always lay out one's palette the same way is smart. When you obey this rule you don't have to wonder if you are dipping into cobalt or ultramarine or violet or alizarin in the dark. Believe me, after the sun goes down, they look alike.
Both paintings were done on gessoed board. The two above each had one coat of regular white acrylic gesso and one coat of clear acrylic gesso. I like the bit of tooth given by the clear acrylic gesso but I have wondered if it causes too much of the paint to be absorbed. I use a bit of odorless solvent but no medium. The result are paintings that dry relatively quickly (a day or two) and have a matte finish except where I have laid on really thick layer of paint.
I took a wonderful workshop from Marc Hanson this summer and have been using his suggested palette with the addition of Ultramarine Violet:
Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Magenta, Light Red, Transparent Red Oxide, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Yellow Ochre.
This a nice palette for landscapes--especially representational ones.
Last week I went to a lecture by a representative of Gamblin Oil Colors which prompted me to drive to Wet Paint to get some new pigments. Stay tuned!