This is the painting I was working on when I was visited by the fledgling bald eagle. I am positioned out on a peninsula we call “the point” at camp and these are the four trees next to a gazebo there.
I really had to fight high winds to get this done “en plein air” but that solitude also made it feel more holy; I was bundled awkwardly in three layers of thick fleece beneath my paint shirt and eventually gave up on painting vertically, lowering the easel to a horizontal position so that the painting wouldn’t keep catching the wind like a sail. Also tricky was working on this painting on different days in different light, while still staying with the image and lighting that initially drew me to the scene. (You can see me changing the shadows below from what they were in the underpainting when I was finally able to return at the right time of day…)
As discussed in my recent blog about underpainting, this new oil has many layers. The sky alone has six or seven layers, depending how you count them. First there was a putty colored acrylic layer, followed by a solid red layer in oil. Then I blocked the whole composition in with only three colors, making the sky chartreuse. The next sky layer was purple, followed by a peachy color. When I went to top all that with my intended buttery yellow, would it look like mud? But no, as intended, it started to throb with glowing luminosity instead. Lastly, I added a few flecks of lavender and light blue high up in the sky near the branches.
You can see some of the process photos below, although every step is not documented; a photo of the deep purple in the sky is noticeably missing– I was a bit panicked at that juncture thinking I had ruined it, but my original instinct turned out to be correct. Some fellow campers took my picture with the painting on location, and it is fun to be able to share those as well.
All the way at the bottom you can see the finished work. This oil painting is 24” x 36” and was a lot of work, but I am pleased with the result. What do you think?