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StudioSense: Orange to Blue to "Green"

Earlier this month I posted this blog in which I chose among my collection of blues to complete an underpainting all in blue. Here was the initial orange acrylic and subsequent blue landscape:

Adding some "reality" to the scene, the current version has a pleasing verdant cast of the Crane Creek Estuary at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Erie in Northwest Ohio. Here is the current version:

A few thoughts on the evolution of this landscape.

As for the sky, which was added to the "base" painting, the day was an overcast grey. The artist's opportunity is to create a more expressive atmosphere while managing the light and values in the scene to properly reflect the light (or lack thereof) from the sky. Note the left side of the scene is darker as the clouds are thicker (I may thicken them a bit more as I continue this piece). That will result in a darker plane (ground) compared to the sky (sky lighter, ground darker). The opposite will evolve just right of the center of the painting, where the ground will pick up more light from the more brilliant orange and pinks of the early morning sky, and the sky will appear darker than the ground.

You will also note the aerial perspective in which the colors are more muted the further distant you go in the landscape. The most brilliant greens are nearby for example, while the same plants are out in the distant field, their greens are more gray.

Water reflections are always fun! You will see the essentials of the island and peninsular masses reflected in the water. However, their colors are somewhat muted with streaks of sky reflected from the ripples in the water.

The tall grasses in the foreground help guide the eye toward the large tree on the right and then across the field and counter clockwise to the smaller tree on the left and back to the starting point of the grasses. The challenge here is to avoid making the foreground grasses too distracting. The artist Corot advises: "Begin your foreground fifty feet away." This is more like twenty feet, but it still works, as the grasses were kept soft and airy.

A valuable technique for the pastel artist is to stroke a pastel pencil or hard pastel so "haze out" the distance. In this example, the tree line just right of center has been brushed over with a light orange pastel pencil, giving it that golden aura look as the sunlight makes its way though the clouds.

So what did the orange and blue underpaintings do for this scene? Besides providing a basis for the values of the painting, the colors peek out in several areas and give it a warm tone, reflecting the beauty of this scene.

More to come on this one as I continue to work the pond and plants to continue filling in the composition and playing with the nuances of light and color.

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