Fog dampened my cheeks and the landscape lay before me in a variety of grays.  One good thing about the landscape when the sun is blocked by thick cloud cover is that the shadow shapes don’t change.  The lighting is consistently dreary.  I was determined to explore the nuances of blue-gray, purple-gray, and yellow-gray.  A thin layer of washes covered my canvas and I began mixing thicker paint.

A fifteen second moment of brilliance

Suddenly the wind picked up, the trees rattled leafless branches and the clouds parted.  Sunlight drenched the foremost bank of trees across the road causing them to sparkle like diamonds set against dark neighboring trees still cloaked in the shadow of clouds.  I gasped, grateful to be witness of such spectacular beauty and happy that I was wet, painting on the porch rather than dry, painting indoors from a lifeless photograph.

Hah!  I recognized the moment as a test of my convictions.  I want to use the landscape only as a starting point, an inspiration, a reference.  I want to study it for clues of colors I would not think of, for shapes I haven’t played with, for textures and movement that will give life to my painting.

I continued to paint, holding in my vision the moment I witnessed and inventing colors rather than match the landscape that had returned to slight variations of gray.  The break in the clouds had closed.

Painting:  Oil on 10.5″ x 14″ prepared wood panel.

Limited Palette: Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Titanium White

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