Last summer, while wheezing along on a long, hilly bike ride north of my home, I came across this absolutely delightful farm nestled in the rolling hills of the countryside. It was love at first sight.
This past week, I returned to the location to create my second plein air landscape inspired by this subject. I thought I would share with you some of the key steps in my working process.
In the first image at right, you can see that I like to start with a rough block in. For this piece, I’m using toned paper. There’s nothing worse than working on screaming white paper in the field during a sunny day. It can be blinding. Besides, the loose wash of color on the toned underpainting helps me to work in a freer, less constrained manner.
In the second image, you see that I have most of the big areas of the composition blocked in. This effort to cover most aspects of the work early in the working process is important. While I may be drawn to the barn in the heart of the scene, I don’t want to neglect the setting around it. It’s vital to give the full piece attention at this phase so that things don’t get out of balance.
Finally, in this third image, you see the inspiration in the distant background and my nearly completed plein air landscape. The only thing left to do is to polish up some of the fine details back in my studio. On this particular day, the wind was whipping pretty strongly, and my easel is no match for those conditions. Rather than toil in vain with some of the small aspects of the piece while fighting a twitchy easel, I find it far simpler to put in the last details in my studio. You’ll see the finished version of this piece on my web site later this week after I photograph it.