Jane’s Front Yard

Plein Air #29 / 9.20.17 / 10×8 acrylic
Porter Ranch, CA
“Jane’s Palisade”

We painted at Jane’s house today, and this is “something like” the view she has from her front yard… that is, after bringing it half a mile closer and stripping out the dozen-plus houses that travel up as far as those highest trees. I just didn’t feel like painting all the houses peeking out everywhere, but Carol was game–houses are truly Carol’s thing, and she was the one who suggested painting this view.

The light was playing hard to get. It was overcast, cloudy…the sun on the palisade would last for no more than 30 seconds at a time all morning. When I did my thumbnail, the hills in back were lighter and the palisade was very dark. It swapped around by the time I finished the block-in. And then back and forth! No sooner I thought I had a chance to lay in the lights, it was gone the next time I looked up.

I toyed with the shapes and only got work done about half way down from the top before we had to pack up. Forgot my camera, so no reference photo to work from later.

Took it home to reassess. Plenty of challenges were left, including finishing with a believable scene, laying on the paint in an attractive way, and going beyond local color. (Why are the last two in particular so hard for me?) It took a couple of days for me to notice I had painted all the greens with my usual high chroma, so those had to be addressed first.

This one caused me to again marvel at the fact that I was born and raised among rocks, hills, sandy washes, deserts, and mountains. The ocean is not far. (There are a few bodies of water nestled in rather arid settings in the relative vicinity, but I never get to them.)  If I don’t want mountains, I have all the flat I could want nearby. But I don’t have prairies, marshes, rusting broadleaf forests, green grass for more than two months, or snow in winter. There are plein air artists who never get to paint what I do and vice versa.

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