Painting the Heat

I’m beginning to think I may have picked a really bad year to start a blog with an outdoorsy component.  Nonetheless, we have had some sun.

In fact, we had some really scorching days last week, and on one of them, I spent some time painting with a friend in Nose Hill Park.  The temperature was in the thirties Celsius, and probably into the nineties Fahrenheit, and unusually for this neck of the woods, it was actually humid.  I’d been looking forward to painting the pond at the eastern edge of the park for quite a while, but when I got there, I didn’t see much that made for an interesting composition; at least, nothing I could paint quickly while standing in the one available spot of shade!

So I attempted to paint the one thing that was everywhere that day: the heat.

The Heat 2

There were swallows flying around, but I didn’t add them until later when I realized I needed to balance out the one tree that was so much taller than the others, and now I’m thinking of adding another swallow to balance out the one on the right that’s so dark. I also realized later that some of the shadows are on the wrong sides of the tree trunks, which I’ll be changing before this gets added to the Plein Air Page.  Yep—it’s a work in progress, despite the signature in the corner.

The painting isn’t really about the trees or the swallows, though: it’s more about how I felt that day.  Overheated and droopy, yes, but also strangely relaxed, even though I was trying to work quickly.  It had been a good day so far.  There was a breeze, but the sky was hazy and pale, which I tried to carry over into the reflections on the water.

So there was a mixture of positive and negative things I was trying to capture in this one.  I wanted the colors to look tired and washed-out, but for the whole thing to feel balanced and peaceful, not oppressive.  I kept the colors warm by using more titanium buff than white, and used more earth tones in general than I usually do for plein-air.  My palette keeps changing, but my constants, chrome oxide green and raw sienna, are everywhere in this piece.

My friend and I left in a hurry, not because of the heat, but because she needed to be elsewhere.  In my haste to pack up, I forgot to take an easel shot again.

The local library was hit pretty hard by the recent flooding, and I haven’t signed out any new books in a while.  I need to do some more research for art history posts!  My plans for this weekend, however, involve camping, and more painting.  Even though there’s rain in the forecast.  We’ll see.

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One thought on “Painting the Heat

  1. Update: I added the one extra swallow…but it looked more like a bat. Another one not quite fit for the gallery.

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