January at Shaw Nature Reserve

Trails below the Bascom House

Trails below the Bascom HouseSnowy_Trail_011314

Here is my latest version of the painting.  I’ve taken some advice from Jan and deleted the small shed.  I think it makes for a more peaceful painting.  I was forcing the shed into the original composition, positioning it at the far left as I did.  The light on the building was really catching my eye in the field, so I was reluctant to “edit” it out, but the center tree is really the star of the painting – so I think this makes for a stronger piece.  I won’t call it a plein air work anymore having made these changes – but it’s still got some of the immediacy from the experience, I think.  Sorry about the color differences – they were photographed under different lighting.  The second is more accurate on my screen.

I painted yesterday with Jan Trager at Shaw Nature Reserve.  The day called for early fog and rain, but the sun broke through shortly after we set up.  In short, it turned into a beautiful day. I was quite frustrated with this painting – felt it looked compartmentalized like a paint-by-number and the composition I had chosen was difficult to work out.  I was planning to scrape it off when I got home, but Jan encouraged me to wait awhile.  She reminded me that I hadn’t done my usual preliminary sketch to work out a composition and value map.  She suggested I add the path to the right, which I hadn’t done at that point.  I did this and tried to work out a purpose since I hadn’t really planned it from the start.  Not planning up-front almost always ends up being a mistake for me.  It was a good day and a good reminder to pay attention to the basics.  I’m not used to painting with anyone else, so I get a little distracted and frazzled sometimes.  In this case, Jan really helped me to take a step back.  I’m still not certain that the painting is a success, but it was a good exercise to try to salvage it. Thanks, Jan.

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3 Responses to January at Shaw Nature Reserve

  1. Judy Stroup says:

    Taking out the shed was a great idea. The painting looks complete without it and it was blocking the flow. You made a great save. Keep up the good work.


    • dwagnerart says:

      Thanks, Judy. Taking it out was really Jan’s idea and a good one! I am kind of proud of myself for not being stubborn and taking some good advice. I’ve been checking in on your blog – you’re making good progress in spite of the weather challenges! Thanks for the kind words.


  2. Judy Stroup says:

    I think you did a good job on the painting even though I don’t know what it looked like before. I had the same problem of not doing the basic preliminary planning on Sunday at Forest Park. I think I was so excited that the weather was finally nice that I just jumped right in. I guess everyone has similar problems with distractions. Hope you get a a chance to do more plein air this winter. If you ever want to meet up just let me know.
    My blog is http://jstroupart.blogspot.com/


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