Getting the shape of the tree in the context of the desired composition was my first focus. Then I blocked in the dirt to give it a reference for the rest of the painting.
I then blocked in the rest of the painting working my way up from the roots. I did not get too dark in the root area so as to preserve my initial drawing.
Adjusting the values and the deepness of the color and establishing the shadows on the dirt became very complicated and time consuming because of the ever changing light.
One of the attractions of Sycamore trees is their complexity. The sky holes and the clumps of leaves were very difficult to convey.
I really love being able to set up in an area with tables to lift all of my paint and gear. It really makes staying focused in the moment a lot easier.
At some point in the painting everything kicks up a notch in terms of pace. There is this moment of commitment that speaks to me. There is no more fussing around there is only getting it done. The painting speeds up because there is no more problem solving there is only finishing what I have built up to. You can see this in the way I painted the shadows. Look at the difference between this photo and the one before it.
Getting the atmospheric perspective right was critical to this painting. I really like the way the background supports the strength of the foreground and the middleground.
The sun was low in the sky. I was hiding behind my board to keep the sun out of my eyes.
A real challenge for me was controlling the thick paint that I put down in the foliage on the right hand side of the tree. I feel like I did not capture the detail and the dramatic color and value variance in that part of the painting.
The finished painting "Sycamore at Irvine Park". Plein air oil on board 24"x 32".
The value shot. The idea of notan can be explored by converting your paintings to black and white. Getting the value right is so important to the success of the painting.