Monday, December 30, 2013


TEMPLES AND THRONES  12x16  plein air   oil on canvas panel
This view in Zion Natl. Park can be seen from the spacious, covered porch of the Historical Center.  It's part of a sweeping amphitheater, with a vast wealth of painting subjects, any time of day.  The Shadow patterns slowly shift and transform the view as the sun moves across the sky.  There's way more information than you can possibly handle, so it's a great exercise in selection, editing and arrangement.

The thing I was most interested in was the dominating morning shadow pattern of the mountains.  I began by deciding how I might arrange these shadow shapes to create focus on the wedge of light on the mountains connecting the foreground and sky.  With that in mind I began to block in a simplified NOTAN design for my composition.  This is a big help in starting to invent the painting, while avoiding being drawn into a monumental drawing problem of "transcribing" the scene as it appears. Boring!  Instead, right from the start, I can begin improvising to bring out my intent for this magnificent subject.

After a quick skeleton sketch in ochre, I chose to use an exaggerated blue-purple under-tone to block-in the shadows. I'm just trying to get a nicely connected pattern that will guide me through the process as I lay in color.

Next, I add a pattern of medium value that adds a bit of form, develops the focal emphasis (the passage where the light transitions from the valley to the sky) and gives me the basic 3 value plan I will use to develop my idea.  From hear on, I try to mix whatever colors I add so that they will remain within the value groups.

This is a 12x16 inch painting, and quite a bite of subject matter for me to handle as a plein air effort.  I was happy with how things were going after a couple of hours, but the light had significantly altered and there was no point in trying to extract more information.  So, I chose to come back the next morning, same time, same spot, to finish.  This was a lot of fun to paint, and reminded me that nothing enhances spontaneity and improvisation like careful planning.   :)

©Jimmy Longacre 2013
12x16 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective impressionist landscape paintings

MY BLOG: Paintbox & Easel

River's Edge Gallery Kerrville TX
Austin Street Gallery Rockport TX
Capital Fine Art Gallery Austin TX

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