Fields Project Wednesday

June 27, 2011

Fields Project 2011-Wednesday #1, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

Fields Project 2011-Wednesday #2, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

Fields Project 2011-Wednesday #3, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

Fields Project 2011 - Wednesday #4, Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

I was not able to be with the group on Tuesday. For Wednesday, a dairy farm near Oregon was the farm of the day.

I was hoping to catch a sunrise, but unfortunately, rain was in the forecast. I took my time getting to the site and arrived just before 8:00am, at the same time as five other artists. I took a quick walk around the farm and set up just inside one of the barns. I had a good view of cows feeding from troughs. I quickly set up my gear and started my oil sketch. I soon encountered a problem which could have easily been avoided. Cows are very active when it’s feeding time. They moved a lot. Although I had an initial oil sketch that looked good, as I started to apply body paint, I had lost the vision. I could not adjust the drawing of the cows. Two possible actions could have helped me to avoid this dilemma.  I could have used my digital camera or a created a quick pen sketch to “freeze” the design of the steer.

I realized that I could either leave the very raw sketch as is and just use it as a future reference or grab a rag and wipe the canvas panel clean. To the dismay of two other artists that were working nearby, I wiped the canvas clean. As I looked out the door to my right, I caught the sight of rain clouds making their way across the fields. A rather simple deign, painting #1 was completed within about twenty minutes.

The wind was picking up as I moved down the main drive. I looked back and decided to capture  the view looking toward the dairy barn. Because of dark clouds coming from the west, I painted from underneath a tree. I had to go through an aerobics routine in order to look out from underneath the swaying branches and view my subject. I had to break twice. Once to run to my car to retrieve my sweat shirt and later to retrieve a coat. Painting #2 was completed as the rains started to fall.

Five of the artists had found a somewhat sheltered spot to the north of the farmhouse. It was underneath some trees and had a view across meadows where cows were grazing. As I set up and started to paint, the rain picked up in intensity. One by one, the other artists decided to pack up and take an early lunch. I continued to paint. Initially, I sketched the scene and quickly worked to capture the design of the mid ground trees and meadow. By the time I started applying body paint to the background trees and foreground meadow, I was encountering a downpour. The canvas panel was soaked. Since oil doesn’t mix with water, I continued to work at the canvas and was able to get the paint to catch onto the surface. Once a base was in place, I could refine and adjust the colors to suit my needs. As I completed painting#3, the rain was subsiding, but I was soaked.

Following lunch, most of the other artists decided to call it a day. I made my way to the horse barn with the plan to capture another view of the cows in the north meadow. As I was setting up my easel in the horse barn, I took a look behind me and I caught a more agreeable design through the opposing doorway. A meadow where four horses were enjoying the afternoon. I turned my easel and set to paint the other meadow. The doorway of the barn framed the view to my pleasure. One of the remaining artists joined me in the shelter of the horse barn to complete the painting which he started in the morning. As I finished my painting, the horses had moved to the farthest corner of the field. As I turned around, I noticed that about two dozen cows had settled close to the barn. I turned my easel around and improvised to put cows into painting #4.

I thought about trying for one more painting but the skies were still thick with clouds and no indication of bright sunlight before evening. I opted to head home to change into some dry clothes and prepare for Thursdays plein air session.

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