Chasing the Light

I set up for this painting on three different days at the same 9:30am to 1pm time period. Light is always a factor in plein air painting. Even 1 pm is pushing it. The rule is that you should not be chasing the light. Working after the shadows shift to afternoon creates confusion. Intellectually you can make a choice of the direction of the light source and use that through out the whole painting. However, I think when you do that you are missing the whole point of painting and experiencing what you see outside in nature.

I chose this place because the lupine on this hill had just opened and they were so fresh and beautiful. I also liked the lone tree/bush silhouette on the left, shaped by the weather, taking on the appearance of a figure. The cow appeared on the 2nd day and seemed to demand a starring role. But more than anything I was drawn to the clouds that first day, after all this is Big Sky Country. Clouds are moving constantly and generally I make a decision which configuration to use and stick to it The English landscape painter, John Constable felt the sky was the main focus of his landscapes. I couldn’t agree more. The sky sets the tone for the rest of the painting. After all, the natural light from the sun defines all the shapes below.

1 Comment
  • Robin Simmen

    September 29, 2020 at 10:03 am

    The clouds are so powerful here. I love that they fill half the frame. No matter where else the eye goes, they pull you back up again. The cow wandering off to the right, is enchanting, too. Like you, the artist, looking back at us as we look what you’ve shown us today as wind and time sweep everything away. And the lupines deep blue reflection of the sky. Wonderful work, Nancy, thank you.