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.