Last April I participated in a 3-day plein air workshop led by my good friend, Jill Carver. (I'm SO in awe of her talent...that gal can really paint!) The location was in picturesque Wimberly, Texas, about 20 miles south of Austin. At a workshop, the goal is to complete lessons or tasks...and seldom will a good painting surface. This adventure into the Hill Country was no exception.
On the second day we set up along a riverbank lined with Cypress trees. Subject matter was everywhere, but 3 trees in the river with their root systems all entangled caught my eye. There were a lot of clouds that day that changed the light and shadows as they floated by the sun. I struggled with the light source as well as getting color, temperature and value correct. I can't remember the lesson theme, but I think it was an exercise in frustration. :-) Anyway, I came home with pages and pages of notes, several canvas studies and a resolve to work harder.
Today, after several months, I studied the painting again...and with a fresh look, I realized that it only needed a few adjustments. Below, on the left, is the result of a frustrating afternoon on a river bank. The painting to the right is after changes made in the studio this afternoon.
" Three's a Crowd" -9x12 Oil (before) "Three's a Crowd" - 9x12 Oil (after)
I "warmed up" the Cypress and "cooled down" the background water and trees. Using highlights and 'sparkle' in the water at lower right as a lead-in, the eye is drawn from there to the darkened foliage near the distant waterline; then upward to the "v-shape" where the trees meet the sky; and then gently moves from there down the Cypress to contemplate a tangled web of roots and soft reflections.
I like it a lot better now. What do you think?