Variations on a Theme, Part Four

So, I really should have titled this one “The Prequel” because here is the original image that inspired the other smaller ones.  All of the paintings in this series are acrylic on board, and this one is approximately 24″ x 24″, whereas the other paintings based on this one are only 12″ x 12″.

I was able to go this week and photograph this painting, and I enjoyed looking at it again for several reasons.  First, I used a purple under-painting on this one instead of my preferred reddish orange, and I can’t remember exactly the reason for doing that other than just experimenting to see what would happen.  You can see the purple under-painting at the bottom within the grassy area.  Second, I love the little details in this piece like the the small appearance of the road in the distance that picks back up and leads out toward the mountains, the tree in the mid-ground with the shaded trunk and the highlights around it, the blue of the mountains that gives that punch of color the painting needed, and the scumbled highlights over the textured gesso in the distant fields.

One of the reasons I switched to the smaller composition within the painting was the strong diagonal that cuts the painting in half in the foreground.   True, it is what I saw that day (this was painted on site, though with artistic license in varying the shadow and color in places to accentuate certain aspects of the landscape), but when all was said and done, the diagonal created more tension in the painting than I originally wanted.  So, I zeroed in on the middle portion of the painting, which took the strength away from the tense diagonal and gave the composition a more relaxed feel.  In doing this, the focal point of the blue mountains was taken away from the important “top-third” portion of the composition and the horizon instead was placed in the middle of the painting.  This also contributed to the more casual or restful feel of the composition, but then also required other aspects to be included in the newer paintings to create visual focal points to keep the eye moving through the paintings so they wouldn’t become too dull.

Here is the portion of the painting that inspired the smaller panels.  Looking at it takes me back to that day when it was painted–hot, humid, fighting bees and other pesky flying insects, and working and reworking the foreground and never really being satisfied with it.

I enjoy both aspects of landscape painting–I enjoy being out in the field, working straight from nature itself, learning and relearning all the little nuances of what I’m seeing and experiencing all around me, but then I also love to take all of that in and then interpret it in different ways in the studio– as I mentioned in a previous post, to simply create a personal response to my experience with the landscape.


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