Studies based on a scene from Copeland Farm in Hillsboro, VA

In July I painted at a plein air session at Copeland Farm in Hillsboro, VA.  The painting didn't survive once I got back to the studio, but I was interested in understanding how I could have approached it differently so I resurrected its basic elements in a series of studies:

1. I tried to paint a cool foreground (in shadow) against a warmly lit background. This is the kind of light I see when I look out of the back of our house at sunset.

2. A better (although still not perfect) match of the colors and temperatures at sunset. I tried to keep the color shifts in the sky very subtle and started with a slightly lighter foreground.

3. In this next attempt I tried to eliminate as much of the greens as possible. This is backlit, much the same as the original study that I did in the field.  I painted the sky in a pale yellow and put more red in the foreground.

4. I mixed a warm gray in a range of four values then added a small amount green to each.  I used a cool, bright gray for the sky.  With the color and value choices so simplified I paid more attention to painting the natural characteristics of the tree and foliage.  This was painted over a warmly toned canvas and I let some of the toning show through in the foreground.

Study of a tree with warm sky, cool foliageStudy of a tree where the treetop is partially in the light

Study of a tree with yellow sky and dark foliageStudy of a tree with grayed out palette

Copeland Farm Studies. Each is 8x6 oil on linen. 2014.

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