July in New Jersey challenges me to find interest and variety in the color green, even when painting in the studio. Using a limited palette makes it easier to create variety in my greens without introducing a green from a totally different light source. The fact that the same limited palette can be used to express landscapes at different times of the day and under different weather conditions might appear to contradict my last statement. I use a large sheet of glass as a palette allowing me to leave many piles of mixed paints spread about the surface. If the colored piles don’t work well together on the palette, the colors won’t work well together on the canvas.

I am finding that cool greens work better than warm greens when glazing over an underpainting of cool red. Both cool and warm greens work well over a warmer toned underpainting. Each day another positive aspect of underpainting reveals itself to me. Because the hues of the underpaintings are varied, I am forced to explore different choices for the glazes such as grayed greens, purple-greens and strong blue-greens.
The strong yellow-orange underpainting of the sky in the last two images forced a stronger blue that moves toward a lighter lavender and ended up suggesting one of those peculiar weather situations where it is raining a few miles up the road while the sky above is still a bright blue. The trees ahead, closer to the storm, are a cool, gray-green, while the trees closer to the foreground are a warmer, grayed green.

An unexpected result of painting landscapes in the studio is that I see the combinations I’ve created artificially in real landscapes. I’ve learned more about atmospheric color schemes in the past month than in a decade of plein-air painting. I’m looking forward to packing my gear and setting up outside this fall. Perhaps I will do a quick underpainting in acrylic so that it will dry quickly and I can immediately begin to overpaint in oil.

Link to page on website featuring progress of these paintings.

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