The Color of Spring

March 16, 2012

Here in the midwest spring has come early this year.  By afternoon at least one day last week the temperature was near 80.  The trees and plants have responded accordingly.  Daffodils, Bradford pear and magnolia trees are in full bloom.  The redbuds are budding.

While plein air painting usually starts here sometime in April, I painted outside for the first time this season with several other artists one morning a few days ago.  We were on farmland belonging to one of the artists, where I have painted so many times before.  So I was searching around for some new objects to paint.

But what I saw on that morning was not the familiar trees in the yard, the clumps of daffodils or the house, all of which I had previously painted.  What caught my eye were the subtle colors of spring as I looked out across a bare field to a distant line of trees, a bit of roof and wall seen among them and the far hills showing pale tints of ochre and barely discernible green.  The sky above was filled with violet and ivory clouds with patches of blue showing here and there.  On this day I would paint colors.

I set up my easel in a bare field.  The weather was so warm I didn’t even need a jacket.  But oh that wind, the bane of any outdoor painter.  I was clutching the canvas with one hand and painting with the other.  It is necessary to work very quickly when painting outdoors because the light and cloud patterns change so quickly.  I almost finished a 14″ x 18″ canvas in about two hours.  It was a very satisfying day.

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