Impressions of Spring plus a few lessons

The most pleasant spring on record continued this weekend with perfect ten days. I’m not in the mood to do much else than paint outside when the weather is
so beautiful with strong light and favorable temperatures. Friday night I was going through all my favorite sites mentally and trying to come up with a good plan for Saturday’s painting when I got an email from Don Maeir. He suggested we take up from where we left off last week on his property with several additional possible views to still be painted.

I stopped on the way to Don’s and got a much needed haircut— just about everything is secondary to painting in my life right now.  That’s not great for my business, but it is a fact.  Thankfully no one has complained too much, actually just the opposite but I am trying to keep it in check or it will consume me. I’ve been hobbling around for weeks after injuring my leg while jogging and it’s not getting any better so maybe my obsessions are starting to manifest into physical problems—it would not be the first time.
Shane McDonald had an appointment so It ended up just Don and I this day, but no matter we had the requisite coffee and doughnuts and then headed out back. I set up near the stream working on a 8×8 square panel doing a small sketch and working right next to Don while he painted on one of his new Arches blocks. After working out the view in pencil I transferred it over in vine charcoal on to the panel then did a rough in with a thin mix of ultramarine and alizarin. Working quickly to get the light and shadows I finished up in just a few hours. The result is very impressionistic and acceptable, but my real goal is more tonalist look. Don, in his usual fashion finished several small water colors in the same amount of time. He told me his first painting is more like a contour drawing and the second more gestural because he has the shapes all worked out, this gives that second one a bit crisper look. Certainly a second time around benefits any work. I had a chance to put that to test the next day.

Sunday I decided to stick to home and set up right in front of the house with a view of the brick stairs up to the side garden. I’ve done several paintings of this view and I’m very accustomed to the stairs, having built them myself. I’m running low on linen panels so I painted this on a 12 x 18 canvas that is about twice the size of my normal work. I centered the view on the stairs and worked a dark veil of trees in the mid ground finally shifting the light and key to bright in the back ground. All in all, I was excited with the look and the results on the larger canvas. So excited in fact that after getting an e-mial Monday from Colley Whisson I sent him a jpeg of it.

I just got an email back from Colley, this was his reply:

Hi Ed,

I like the painting of the steps, excellent work on the foreground. Maybe try to simplify the background and get more blue in the background shadows and watch the strength of horizontal shadow in the mid distance.
I hope this is of some help, catch you later.

Kind regards,

Colley Whisson

This is so interesting to me.  I see that a bit of blue instead of the green would have pushed that impression of space back even better.  Also his opinion of my “veil” in the mid ground—I interpret this as him thinking it’s to dark and too strong. I should hold those darks back for the foreground.

Pretty cool —instruction and opinions from experts at what they do, one just a few miles away the other four thousand.


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