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StudioSense: Summer Morning Field

Early mornings on humid summer days bring out an ethereal veil of the landscape, with a hazy look that almost blurs the nearby foliage and turns the distant tree line to a bluish cast.

Here's the reference photo:

The photo does not capture the haziness that was present that morning. And although the sky is clear, on an earlier trip (without camera) there was a dramatic cloud structure expanding up from the horizon. So time to use my "artist's license" and make some changes.

As for the sky, a recent morning's sunrise presented the following drama:

So off I went to modify the plain sky of the field painting to a more dramatic (but not too overdone) sky. My plan was not to create too much emphasis in the sky that would detract from the wildflowers in the field. Here is an early version of the painting with the plain sky:

And here is the version with a more dramatic sky. Simply, not too overdone.

As for the technique applied to this painting-in-progress, I chose to do an acrylic under painting with a warm orange undertone in the field. First I started with a sketch and the acrylic wash:

Next was to add the darker values of the trees and distant treeline with a blue acrylic wash:

As for adding the field, a collections of green, mauve, pink and brown-gray pastels did the trick:

To build that sense of haze and fuzziness, I blended the darker value stalks into the pastel paper (note the un-blended stalks to the right). In general I wold blend vertically as you can see here, occasionally pushing color horizontally to reflect the true character of the foliage. The trick is to keep most of the mass of wildflowers and grasses a bit hazy, but I plan to show the foreground in greater detail.

Another haze impact is conveyed by brushing a hard pastel pencil in the tree branches to help soften and blend those hues and values:

You can also use an orange pastel pencil to soften the edges of the leaves nearest the sky, to convey the impact of daylight seeping into the foliage.

So more to come on this painting. Once I am set on the fuzzy field, I will introduce specific clusters of wildflowers.

Come back soon for more updates!

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