This morning, the sunrise flashed some spectacular colors… but only briefly.
Fortunately, I was poised by my window with my palette and brushes in hand.
Though snow is still on the ground, the colors of spring are emerging!
This oil sketch took about 10 minutes. The vivid colors were visible for even less time, and I was delighted to capture them this well.
My east-facing windows provided the first tip that the colors would be juicy.
The snow looked pink, even before the sun peered over the horizon. So, I knew to prepare a very large brush (a size 16 filbert with fairly soft and tapered boar bristles) with a mix of alizarin crimson, cadmium red and titanium white.
Right away, I scrubbed-in both the sky and the snow areas with that mixture.
Then, lavenders began to emerge on the horizon… literally.
So, I added them with a smaller brush (size 10 bright, boar bristles) and kept working at a rapid pace.
Yellows appeared next as the sun cleared the evergreens to the east.
(Remember, I’m looking westerly as I paint. The landscape is darker on that side, and the sunlight from the east strikes it gradually.)
In the warm, yellow-saturated light, the usually muted colors of the hillside flashed a preview of spring.
I scrubbed those colors in quickly, as well. The blues and greens were mixed with varying amounts of French ultramarine blue, pthalo blue, lemon yellow and cadmium yellow. There’s probably a little cadmium orange in there, as well.
I stopped my work while the energy of the painting was still vital. Though very loosely executed, this painting conveys the almost magical (and fleeting) moods of the sunrise during just a few moments.
At that point, it was barely dawn. I had to wait to photograph my painting in natural light, because it simply wasn’t bright enough to take a clear, crisp picture.
This is one of my favorite sunrise oil sketches so far. The canvas is 9″ x 12″ and it’s a wrapped canvas, meaning that the paint goes around the sides and it won’t need a frame… though I’ll probably frame it, anyway.
I had underpainted this canvas with cadmium red, but I didn’t treat the canvas with extra layers of gesso, so the texture of the canvas still shows through.
I have mixed feelings about using gesso to create a perfectly smooth painting surface. On one hand, it’s a traditional Tonalist approach, so the finished work is all about light & shadow, as well as color.
However, I’m also keen on the idea of the process showing in the finished work.
Anyway, I’m tremendously relieved to be painting again. Keeping in flow with my art is wonderful!