|PEDERNALES A.M. 11x14 oil on canvas panel|
The sun had just come up over the ridge and illuminated the valley at 8:45 a.m. This lighting passes very quickly, so I was set up and ready to paint. The temperature began to rise, and I thought I was going to cook on those limestone rocks. I was out by 10:45, soaking wet.
One of the most difficult things about painting outdoors, of course, is catching the fleeting effects of light at a given time of day. You could say, it's the wave we ride. Once you start, you can't just lay back and coast. You have to take what is in front of you and begin to react.
The first thing I look for is a worthy focus for the painting. Then, I quickly work out a design for the values and shapes. Miss this and you're in for a rough time and probably a wipeout. With that in place I begin laying in paint that represents my observations about color temperature. It can look rather wild, but it helps me organize the effects of how warm colors advance and cooler, more neutral colors recede. If I have the values and the color temperatures accurately indicated, I can begin to confidently lay in the local color of things. While the hue may now change radically, I am careful to hold to the value and temperature relationships I've tried to work out.
After about an hour and a half, the scene in front of me usually bares little resemblance to what initially caught my eye, but if I remain faithful to my value design and temperature relationships I have enough information to try and bring the painting to a finish. This isn't the time for refinement of details. It's about the big feeling related to the moment that became the wave I wanted to catch. Sometimes you put it together, make something out of the wave, even ride in the tube, and sometimes you wipeout. Either way, you enjoy seeing and feeling at an uncommon level. Cowabonga!!