oil painting · Plein Air · Technique · Uncategorized

Potomac View


If you visit George Washington’s Birthplace and walk up to the Visitor’s Center and then walk to the right edge of the brick patio in front and look down over the water, you will see my view.

Of course it will need to be about 12:30 p.m. on a mid-October afternoon on a bright sunny day. Can we replicate the setting? Maybe, maybe not. My artistic license also allowed for some pretty extensive pruning of the trees.

But see those shadows across the beach? See the sand where the sun touched it? See the trees way in the back fading into the sky thanks to dust or something in the air? Those sunbeams, shadows and atmospheric effects were the things I wanted most to capture.

dsc02453There was also sparkling water and some interesting reflections and green muddy things going on in the waterline and some nifty fall foliage that I sort of shot at but missed. My composition whet a bit askew. Too much ended up in the middle of the canvas. And the leaning trees somehow straightened themselves up and spaced themselves too evenly. I did preserve some of that orangey red ground color and I’m real happy about that. All in all, not a bad study. I can see a larger, more developed painting coming out of this. I think the actual painting in my mind is better than this… but I can use this to help me get to where I wanted it to go, I think.

I have the advantage of photos to add to my references for later work in addition to a little thumbnail sketch and this little painting. I have to really be amazed when I think of artists through the centuries who did not have photos from which to work. They had their memories, their sketches and their studies and their imaginations, but it’s pretty mind blowing to me to think of working on a finished piece without a photo and away, inside of a studio…

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