Sunrise color study - landscape painting in oils - NH - Eileen Morey

Color Study – 6 Mar 2010

It was a cloudless morning.   The colors were lovely, but I’m most inspired by the startling colors that flash across the clouds when the sun is coming up.

So, I decided to try a color study instead of anything as dramatic as my usual morning sketches.  It’s a smaller work — 8″ x 10″ — but I’m rather pleased with it anyway.

The bad news is: The sky (and local color) was so blue, this photo barely represents the work.  I’ve had that problem before, when I paint and then try to take photos as the sun is coming up.

However, we’ll be at the seacoast later today, so I won’t have a chance to take better/replacement photos.  Not today, and by tomorrow or Monday, I’ll have half-forgotten these photos and I’ll be posting new artwork.

Detail of color studyThe detail at left may give you a better idea of the range of colors in this morning’s work.  That where, in real life, this color study shines.

It was one of those mornings when the sun was a rich red-orange (“red in the morning..,” as the saying goes) and for just a couple of minutes, the colors of the landscape were intense… almost neon versions of what they looked like five minutes later.

And, by noon, this scene will look as gray as any other washed-out day in early March.

That, of course, is the point of getting up early to paint.  I want to see those fleeting colors.  They’re what I keep in my mind’s eye as I look at the landscape at noon, when the light is very white, the shadows almost vanish, and the colors are flat.

To fully grasp the beauty of Nature, I think it’s vital to see it at its best.

(It’s sort of like seeing a photo of your aged grandmother from when she was dating.  After the initial “Wow!” moment, you can see how gorgeous Granny was — and still is — now that you know what to look for.  And, you probably see some of that beauty in yourself, when you look in the mirror.)

For me, Nature is at its best when the lighting is most interesting: Sunrise, sunset, immediately before a dramatic storm, during an eerie fog, and at night.

At sunrise today, I had about two or three minutes of vivid, hyper-saturated color in the landscape.  That’s what’s in this color study.