12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis Professional White
by Miki Willa
When we were in Eastern Maine, we left our campground in search of a covered bridge crossing the Little Saco River. We wanted to find a place to do some pleine air painting. We had all our painting gear and we were ready. The leaves were beginning to turn along the river, and we wanted to do our first fall color paintings. When we got to the bridge, we were excited to see several areas that would be great to set up to paint. Then we got out of the truck. The mosquitoes were so thick, breathing meant the possibility of taking in some of the critters. Deet was no match. We grabbed several photos, dove back into the truck, and drove back up the river. On the way, we saw this beautiful bush that cried to be painted. Photos were taken quickly and stored for studio reference.
Since I want to get better at rivers, I decided to work on this one this week. I did a dry underpainting, paying attention to values rather than local color. The scene was all about the turning bush and the reflections on the slow moving river. I started with the bush and worked out to the sides, putting the reflections in as I went. I kept in mind the unequal triangle approach to points of interest, with the bush being the main focal area. I went with local color in the final painting. If I do this one again, I think I will push the fall foliage to the brighter reds, yellows, and oranges. I would like the next river I paint to have more speed to it. I still have much to learn about reflections, but I also have to learn to paint moving water.