Tuesday night the San Luis Valley Painters met at the marsh north of Alamosa, facing Mt. Blanca to paint the full moon rise as the sun set. The evening was a little breezy but not bad enough to keep us from painting. At the top is my 6"x 12", Moonglow.
At 6pm it still seemed like broad daylight and hard to get a handle on what values would be like. Evening phenomena is like that - an hour of hanging around and 10 minutes of frantic painting. I take time while the light is good to layout my composition, work the shapes and try to anticipate where the moon will pop up. Some decisions should be made ahead of time, like: do I want to keep the foreground lit with the setting sun, or dark indicating the sun has set? - Will I use the alpen glow when it lights the mountain, - if so my foreground will be dark. Sometimes, you find yourself just standing there watching it all happen - with out a clue. That's not all bad - the first time - but going out to see the sun set, in a place where you can see the horizon is a good way to observe what happens in the landscape. Nothing can take the place of direct observation.
David Montgomery checks out the scene through his viewer and in the other photos Dee Bartee, Dave Roepke, Beth Keck, and Judith Greenwood paint by the water's edge.
This marsh is one of my favorite places to paint and summer evenings are stunning as the sun sets and Mt. Blanca lights up with alpen glow. The water is a destination for migrating birds of all types and in the Spring the water can be covered with Sandhill Cranes.
I am a member of the PAPNM (Plein Air Painters of New Mexico) and all over New Mexico and Colorado painters were out to paint this event. To see more "MoonGlow" paintings click on the link to the PAPNM wesite.
The challenge this session has been DRAWING - things bunched or stacked; making radishes appear fore shortened as they radiate from a center bunch, or working with ellipses that go in several different directions. Like the bowl and cups shown here- which are so slightly OFF.
Painters tend to focus on broader subjects such as over-all composition, or value, which are important but as a landscape painter, I get a little drawing lazy. The demand of doing a class demo twice a week is one of the best ways to stay sharp - or even improve.
Ellipses are what drive me crazy. It's a love-hate thing and I am always looking for ways to include them in a still life.
An ellipse is a only circle in perspective, but like a circle the eye of the viewer can always tell if it's off.
I strain after accurate ellipses and it seems like problems only appear after the painting is finished.
If ellipse drawing is a struggle for you, practice, practice, practice.
Two good things to know as you draw:
1. an ellipse is made up of arcs and has NO flat edges - just like a circle;
2. if divided into quarters, each quarter will be exactly like the others - just like a circle.