|Cypress Family 16x12 oil on canvas panel|
One of the main things I wanted to play with in this one was the color scheme. When I'm painting outside things are moving and changing all the time, so you have to get with it with whatever you have to bring to the game. You can't afford to lay back and give a lot of careful consideration to all the decisions and options.
I was struck by the subtle colors in the trunks of these cypress trees, ranging from cool to warm in close values. To emphasize this and play it up, I decided on keying this painting to the yellow green of the cypress foliage. Directly across the color wheel from yellow green is violet, so for variety I mixed the violet and its neighbors, blue violet and red violet. Having this predetermined color harmony mixed and ready, I jumped in.
I painted a transparent imprimatura of Ultramarine blue and placed the basic pattern of darks with a fat brush and a mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine with a bit of Burnt Sienna to keep on the warm side. Next, I began mixing colors and blocking them in to get the value and color relationships down, covering the canvas as quickly as possible. I don't fuss with this stage when I'm doing this approach. I just want some color down that I can begin to work with. With that done, I use my palette knife and scrape the whole thing down. Now, I have a general underpainting to build on. From here on out, I work to adjust the shape accuracy, value and color relationships, emphasize the focal area, and finish up with some accents, highlights, a little calligraphy and broken color, and I'm done.