|River Magic, pastel, 12x16|
Back in the studio I looked over some photos I took of the scene. I also tried something with the photos that I hadn't done in awhile. I went into Photoshop and increased the color saturation...not a lot, but just enough to have some additional color information to work with in the painting. Since it was somewhat of a backlit scene, the light was pretty flat in most areas except for the thin highlights on the trees and in a few spotty places on the water. I needed to find a way to create interest in the water and background trees without the use of very much value contrast. When I don't have value contrast to work with, I often make use of color contrast to create interest.
|Increasing the saturation in Photoshop basically exaggerates |
what little bit of color is already present.
|my plein air version (oil)|
The dramatic highlights on the trees were what originally caught my eye when painting this on location, so I still wanted to be sure to capture that in my next attempt. I think I did manage to get some of that down in the plein air version.
Since I decided that color was going to play a key role in my pastel version, I started with a more colorful underpainting rather than my usual monochromatic value structure.
A few demo shots of the beginning stages...
|initial layers using Nupastels|
|getting the background going|
I have many failed plein air paintings, but I consider each and every one very valuable time spent. Each one represents more time studying the landscape and learning its nuances. For this particular one, I wanted to try the studio version very soon after the plein air attempt so that much of the scene would still be fresh in my memory. It really was a very beautiful, magical spot along the Chattahoochee River on the day I painted there, and that's what I wanted to capture with the dramatic backlighting and subtle color contrasts. It's a nearby location for me, so hopefully I'll be back to paint there many more times!