Sunday, December 2, 2012

Painting with M.L. Coleman

M.L. Coleman (left), me (right)

I first met painter M.L. Coleman ( several years ago at my first Sedona Plein Air Festival.  Since then, we've painted together several times, perhaps most memorably at the Grand Canyon when we went up in his Lazy Daze motorhome for a few days.  Recently, I had the opportunity to paint with him again along Spring Creek here in the Verde Valley.

Me (left), M.L. Coleman (right)

M.L. has typically painted large landscapes from areas as far-ranging as Sedona and the Grand Canyon to Italy and Ireland.  Since his father was a park ranger at Yellowstone, he takes naturally to the broad landscape.  Lately, he says, he's been going out to paint less with the intention of doing a finished painting than with the idea of simply recording color notes.  These small sketches can be painted rapidly and make excellent reference material for studio work.  He finds that in places like Ireland, where fast-moving weather can change the patterns of light and shadow in minutes, these quick sketches are a lot less frustrating.

We painted in two spots.  Our first spot, under a cliff along Spring Creek, had some beautiful light effects.  The sun was inching down, and using my hand as a guide, I estimated we had maybe 40 minutes to capture the light before the creek was plunged into shadow.  (You can use your hand to measure how long till sunset - or how long before the sun goes behind a cliff - just as you can measure the height of a horse.  One hand  equals 0.6 hours, or about 36 minutes.)  We set up our gear and dove in.  For this sketch, I had to work rapidly.  But it seems to evoke a sense of the moment and the light effects.

Sketch #1
THE WINNER!  72% of you liked this one.

For our last painting, we drove to a hilltop that gave us a broad view of the Verde Valley, looking toward Mingus Mountain.  We looked into the sun, since that gave us backlit trees, and the foliage was near-incandescent in spots.  We had a little more time for this session, and as you can see, it also gave me a little more time to "massage" the paint.  Is that a bad thing?  Perhaps.  I rather like the raw look of the first painting.  I'm curious to know which you prefer. [UPDATE:  See results above!  72% liked the first one.]

Sketch #2

We're hoping to make a road trip again soon in the Lazy Daze.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

adventureartist said...

Both are lovely, but I prefer the #1, possibly for the nice contrasts alone, #2 is nice but so much more detailed and is lovely in it's own way.
Dad and I are coming up for cow elk season tomorrow so watch out for all the crazy hunters in 6B!:-)