Sunday, March 30, 2014

Plein Air at the Santa Rosa Plateau

Yesterday TPAA (Temecula Plein Air Artists) and SDPAP (San Diego Plein Air Painters) met at Sylvan Meadows at the Santa Rosa Plateau. The recent rain turned the grass a muted green, but it is still a week or so early for the poppies. There were about 12 artists there. It adds so much energy to paint with a group.

I painted two paintings. The first is 9 x 12". I was amazed at how much I had to tone the greens with reds and orange. It was a sunny day, but there was a lot of moisture in the air so a haze brought the values in the distance up. I blocked in the entire painting but it didn't look like the scene, so I took out my color isolator and checked for value. I had everything two steps too dark. When that was corrected it began to look like the day.

Path on March Morning, Santa Rosa Plateau
Mary Mulvihill

As I was cleaning up I turned around and loved the scene behind me. There were three receding hills with warm olive trees on them. I quickly did a 6 x 8" color spot sketch. The purpose of the sketch is to record the colors of each object  and how they relate to each other. It isn't necessary to create an exact representation of the scene. I recorded the light, halftone and shadow colors of a tree and the hill in the foreground, mid-ground, background and sky. Combined with a photo of the scene, I have all the information I need for a studio painting. The color spot sketch took about 10 minutes. Sometime when I paint plein air the color and light are changing so fast, all I do is color spots. I end up with color reference that no photograph will ever match.

Receding Hills, Santa Rosa Plateau
Mary Mulvihill

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