One Trick Farm (plein air). 8x10, oil on linen. 2015.
Today's paint out was in Hillsboro, VA. It was one of those days when I wished I carried a large canvas with me as the sky was full of interesting cloud formations. I found a great spot on a mowed pathway in the middle of a field with a large tree for shade.
Clouds were rolling in from the west across the Blue Ridge and although they were continually moving, each passing formation was similar in general size and shape to the last. I was able to spend a comparatively large amount of time analyzing the shapes and colors in the sky.
When I'm painting out on location I try to record color and value relationships as closely as I can, even if that means I have to work with simple compositions on small panels to do it in the available time. I deliberately take my time to analyze what's in front of me when my first instinct is to rush into the painting.
When I first started plein air painting I often tried to concentrate on making a 'painting' first and hoped that everything would look right once it came together. I usually came unstuck.
Skies, in particular, take a huge amount of observation and analysis before they can look convincing. It pays to make every stroke count and get it close on the first go; only if the colors and value relationships are right can the clouds be painted freely.