"A Quiet Grey Day at Merryfield Farm, Arrowtown." ( 430 x 1140 mm )
Apparently, back in the 1930s and 40s, it was considered desirable to paint on cloudy days when the light was flat and tonal changes were at a minimum.
I dont know about you, but I much prefer painting on sunny days when the light is nice and clear with bright highlights and strong shadows. I find that I am far more excited about painting when there is that glint of the sun on water, the contrast of the lights and darks on the faces of a rocky ridge, brightly lit trunks and branches against the dark bush behind, the full blaze of colour on a sun bathed field of flowers - all 'mouth watering' for me. They bring on the urge to paint!
I therefore found it quite difficult recently, when a friend and I were going painting and the day began to turn grey. Especially as he was coming out for some painting tuition and it was his last day before he was to head home from Queenstown.
So .... as we travelled towards Arrowtown, we decided to head for what I hoped might be a suitable subject.
I've discovered that there are some subjects that for me, tend to be less interesting on a flat day. Panoramic subjects - mountains for example. There are others however, that work perfectly well when the lighting is poor. Coastal paintings get more exciting as the weather gets worse! Derelict old buildings are good to paint almost any time. Especially this particular old building as it has the mountains and dark trees behind to give some tonal contrast and a placid lagoon for a 'feel good' factor in front. ( Most people seem to enjoy calm reflective water! ) So...it's a great subject in almost any weather!
You will have noticed that I've used a stretched format for this painting. I wanted to show the building nestled into its surroundings rather than as a 'portrait' of the building itself. I felt to only show the base of the mountains behind as it allowed me more space for the very expressive lagoon rather than worry about the flat grey sky.
Talking of water, I've had many people ask me how to paint reflections. They avoid it because it's "too hard." I would agree if I was trying to produce a mirror image - but I'm not! I don't wish to for three reasons.
1. It's too trite for me - multitudes of tourists take photos of reflections every day.
2. I don't want to create an image in my painting that competes with my focal point......and
it might look as if I'm trying to rival those photographers!
3. The loosely shaped, soft edged reflections I do are quite easy to achieve, and yet still
say that the water is calm and reflective without trying to be the centre of attention.
( I'm tempted to do a dvd on the subject as so many people seem to have problems
I've realized in the last year or so, that when I paint with people and teach them at the same time,
it naturally takes me longer to complete my painting. However, despite time out to guide them, I'm ending the day feeling more relaxed.... and with a painting that is better designed and more finished than in the past. I suspect that because it's taken all day, it's given me plenty of time to consider what I'm doing, as I talk to them about what they need to be thinking about!
All very nice when it's a great spot like this one!