Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adjusting One's Color Sensibility

Sycamore Warmth 12x9, oil

People ask me, Do you find it difficult getting back into painting the Southwest after having been painting in the Maritimes all summer?  I do!  This morning I hiked up into Fay Canyon with a friend to paint some of Sedona's red rocks, and I am not at all satisfied with my attempt.  I've been back in Sedona for a week now, and I am struggling to get my "red rock painting skills" up to snuff.  I was pretty happy with the work I was doing last time I was here.  So what's the problem?

I work mostly from life, so I am constantly practicing my skills of observation and color mixing.  Why then is it difficult going from the greens and blues of the Maritimes to the reds and oranges of the Southwest?  Doesn't it just come down to observing closely and mixing accurately?  One would think so.  But I believe it takes time to adjust one's color sensibility to an area that is radically different, no matter how familiar you might have been with it previously.

I know from talking with them that it's this way for many painters who participate in plein air painting events and for workshop instructors who travel.   Like them, I prefer to get to a new location (or a familiar location that I've been away from) a few days in advance so I can get a few paintings under my belt.  If not that, I want to spend some time walking around and making mental notes and going through the motions of color-mixing in my head.

Above is a sycamore study I painted this week that, unlike my red rock painting today, I am happy with.

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