Sunrise Times Two – 3 Jan 2011

Dawn painting - 3 Jan 2011 - NHThis was one of those mornings when I talk to myself.

First, there was the waiting.  I’m sorting out a bunch of goals, etc., so at 5 a.m. I was working in my living room with the drapes wide open, checking the sky every few minutes.

When the early light began to reach the clouds, the transformation was swift and dramatic.  Suddenly, even the snow — mostly melted now — seemed to glow.

Fortunately, I had set out my paints earlier in the morning, so I was ready to paint.

That’s when I started talking to myself… lots of “oohs” and “ahhhs” and other raves about the light & colors. 

(The neighbors are used to hearing this. I often talk out loud when I’m creating art. Whether it’s good or not, I’ve always commented about my art as I work. However, I also talk to no one in particular when I see beautiful skies, flowers, ocean views, shooting stars, and Christmas displays.)

By the time this painting was completed, I probably looked a little like Edward Scissorhands, with five different paintbrushes in my left hand and two in my right… each of them slightly askew.

Click for one-minute description (MP3).

Sunrise painting - 3 Jan 2011 - NHThen, the entire sky seemed to change in the twinkling of an eye.  From purples and teals, the scene shifted to pastels, with lots of pinks and pale turquoises.

(I’m not sure if it was that “red in the morning” sky that predicts a storm, but I later noticed a massive number of seagulls crouching on the grocery store parking lot… a sure sign of rough weather at sea.)

The hillside picked up many of the warmer colors.  Every tree with any remaining leaves was suddenly tipped with flame-like shades of yellow and orange.

Sunrise painting - detail - 3 Jan 2011However, at the base of the hill, deep teal and blue colors blended into the murkier greens of this time of year.

In the foreground, the snow seemed to lose its brilliance, but perhaps that was simply in contrast to the vivid colors in the sky.  I considered keeping the snow in a very high key (almost lurid colors) like the rest of the scene.  Then, I decided that there has to be something in the painting that gives the eye a rest.

I’m working with thicker layers of paint now.  I’m reminded of that advice from early and mid-20th century painters: Put more paint on your palette than you think you’ll need… and then use it all up.

At left, the detail from the painting is pretty much full-sized, but the colors aren’t quite accurate.  For example, the purplish area near the horizon is actually a cherry pink, sort of like cotton candy but darker and richer.

(If you’re a painter, it’s mostly a mix of pure cadmium red and zinc white, with just a touch of cadmium yellow medium in some areas, with a dot of alizarin crimson in others.)

The smaller picture, above, is closer to the correct color, but still not as light & faerie-like as the actual work.

Each of these oil paintings is 9″ x 12″ on canvasboard.   These New England landscape paintings represent typical views in northern New Hampshire.

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