I woke up this morning thinking about simplification--creating the feeling of the place without actually providing a lot of detail/things in the painting. Working in my studio today, I decided to revisit a quick compositional study, drawn on location in Colorado this past summer. I've been testing a new batch of textured gel, so I was stocked up on 8 x 10 panels that were ready to go.
The block-in on the panel is done with a pencil, and is slightly different than the sketch. I also included horizontal and vertical lines representing the Golden Section calculations for the most advantagous locations for stacking shapes or creating intersections.
The sloping shapes of the land masses leading back to the mountains were the reason I did the sketch initially. As the composition developed, I became interested in the intersecting relationship of the fence line, top line of the pastures, and the grouping of trees just beyond. I placed that intersection at the top right GS intersection, balancing the strong vertical of the fence line with the horizontal shadow pattern in the foreground.
The finished painting viewed from several feet has a solid feel for the values and depth. The details and specifics are implied, so it's much more loose and abstract up close. (Try squinting at this photo, and you'll see what I mean.) This was my idea--to simplify the information, relying most on accurate values and a cohesive color pallette.
Having fewer big chunks of time in my studio the past year, I've been thinking and painting more along the line of color studies. An 8x10 or 9x12 provides the opportunity for a bit more experimenting and spontaneous painting--and still be able to get it finished in one session. These little guys are the trial runs for some large format studio paintings.
I'll be teaching in Springfield, OR early February. Since it will be a studio class, I'm hoping for some snow on the ground--sketch it quick, and paint where it's warm!