Previous month:
September 2014
Next month:
January 2015

If It Is Sunny, Bring Your Umbrella

I never thought that, in Colorado, on a sunny day, I would need to bring my umbrella when I paint, but that is what I have to do. In other parts of the US, sure, you never know when a cloud is going to come out of nowhere and release itself over you. In Colorado, though, if you look out the window and it is sunny, you can bank on the fact that you will have more of the same throughout the rest of the day. I painted, down on the Miller Ranch trail again, and when I got home something about my painting was "off."


I know it was a gorgeous day out there while I was painting... so what happened? Why did my painting look so... um... dull?

I did some investigating on the internet to find out what was going on. I knew that when I was out there painting, everything was looking vibrant and beautiful, both in my gorgeous view and in my painting. By the time I got home, my painting had turned dull and lifeless. Were my paints going bad? That shouldn't be since I practically forked over a limb to pay for them (FYI, some of my tubes of paint cost more than $40 a piece.)

Turns out, after a bit of digging, that your pupils dialate from all the crazy, awesome sunlight out there. When your eyes go from your view to your pallette, and then to your painting surface, your eyes are not able to adjust fast enough... odd, because I thought they were adjusting quite fine. This is what I was doing wrong: I would look at the view, mix the color on my palette, then add it to the painting. But, and this is a big BUT, if my painting surface was in shadow, as it was being that it was perpendicular to the sky, and my palette was in sunlight laying horizontal to the sky, then I had totally different light types on the paint. On my palette, where I was matching the color to what I was seeing, the paint was in total sunlight. My painting surface, though, was in shadow. I am not a good enough painter for my eyes to adjust quickly. To fix the problem I had to bring my umbrella:



Bingo! This time I got the results I was aiming for:



If you scroll back up, to the first photo in this post, I think that you will be able to see the difference. I went back to the exact same spot the next day. It was the same time of day, same kind of sun. The only difference was that I brought my umbrella that attaches to my tripod.

In case you are wondering, both the paintings, above, were done in oil.

I also still am working in pastels. Below is my latest effort, also from the Miller Ranch trail, of two little trees that always catch my attention when I am hiking down there. With so many gorgeous, outstanding tree specimens on that trail, these two little unassuming trees manage to pull on my heart strings. I could not avoid them any longer. They were begging me to paint their "portrait" and so I obliged.



So next time you are painting out in the sun, either don't forget your umbrella, or find yourself a nice shady spot to stand in.

Meet you back here soon.