Fresh off the Easel: Muggy Morning


It was a hot, sticky July morning at the Pittsfield Preserve near Ann Arbor, Michigan. The grass was wet and the mosquitoes were circling (never mind the stealthy tics hiding deep down in the dark jungle of weeds)!


I have recently been experimenting with various hues of underpainting to bring out the pastel color in a more vibrant fashion. Here is the reference photo:


To convey the hazy look for the treeline, I chose to paint it with a bluish hue. Below I have created a yellow treeline. I chose yellow to select one of the components of blue's complement, orange (made from red and yellow). This differs from my typical approach to select the "pure" complement, orange.


For the greens, the complement of course is red. Red, however, when combined with blue, creates purple (basic color lesson here)! So I chose purple instead of green's complement, red.

As for the sky, I deemed it predominantly pink for the final pastel. Pink is made from red and white. Red's complement is green. I chose a light green for the sky's underpainting. If you understand all of this, good job! You are following the (sometimes bizarre) psyche of an artist!


Next, I applied an alcohol wash to meld the colors into the Uart sanded paper.


While working on a painting, I photograph it in grayscale to match it to the reference photo. This allows me to test the values for accuracy.

Below is the grayscale version of the painting, followed by the reference photo. Both grayscale versions are pretty similar.



So what did this underpainting approach do for the final pastel painting? In some areas you can see where the underpainting shows through (i.e. the purple behind the grasses and tree). This tends to add vibrancy to the local color of green. The yellow underpainting of the tree line helped bring out the greenery of the distance in addition to enhancing the blues. The sky is definitely pink, and little if no sign of green. So I am not so sure that the sky experiment worked, but I had fun painting it!

#valuestudy #field #underpainting #fog