I remembered a painting by Alma-Tadema the other day, which title accords very well with what I've tried to do with this oil sketch from last weekend. The canvas, 16x20, was begun as a demonstration for the monthly Saturday Plein Air Class.
The temperature and the humidity were ferocious, and Alma-Tadema's title "94 degrees in the Shade" (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), exactly expressed the spirit of this spot, almost incandescent with the heat.
In the initial phase, done on site, I just tried to get some of the larger forms in place. I find that an hour of demonstration, and then a subsequent half-hour, don't get me quite as far as I'd like on a 16x20" canvas. The good part is that a painting of this size is much easier to see and to follow for a group of eight to ten students.
For a larger group, such as the Vermont Workshop in June, I demonstrated on a 20x25 canvas. Here's the lay-in, with some color, at the end of Saturday's class.
I hadn't quite figured out how large I wanted the tree to be. In fact it was quite massive. But I was most concerned with two aspects. First, I wanted the painting to be later in the afternoon, really glowing. Second, I promised the students I'd work on the tree's foliage. I'd said that I wanted to have some leaves almost entering the viewer's space, and separated from the dark underside of the leaves on the far side of the tree. I wanted to suggest a deep upward space between the two groups of leaves. And, in a moment of weakness, I promised to show the result.
|Ninety-six in the Shade, 2012|
Not entirely sure what I'll do next to this painting. There's a lot of refinement needed."theRevenant", a follower of the blog, will no doubt insist I finish this one, too. We'll see.