Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dramatic Skies over Maine Farms

One of the great things about fall in New England is the dramatic, changing weather. 
In southern Maine it's been a sunny warm fall with the trees turning colors in start and stops...

The turning leaves have been bright and colorful in some neighborhoods and dull in others.  Some trees are bare while others still have their green leaves.

Marcus and I went out for an afternoon drive to check out some of the neighboring farms.

We parked at the golf course and I set up to paint.  I wanted to try for a few sketches of the quickly changing light on the landscape.

The Dunn farm is one of those rare small dairy farms that are still in operation. I love this farm!

I used my large Gloucester easel because there was a strong wind from the west and my other easel wouldn't have a chance in this steady onslaught...

The cows moved in slow motion across the pasture as clouds raced across the sky, alternately lighting and darkening the landscape. 

I moved briskly as I put colors on my palette.

It looked like mother nature had plans for a change in the weather.. the clouds kept building.

Ooh... it was getting pretty nice out there, the farm was face-lit, the trees and cows had nice shadows behind them and the distant trees were a deep wine color in the cloud shadows. 

Late afternoon low light offers such a nice dramatic contrast.  I was hoping there would be enough big sky holes so I could keep getting glimpses of sunlight on the farm.

The clouds got thicker, and soon everything was in shadow. 

I sketched in the outline of the farm.

The cows kept moving in and out of these great patterns across the meadow. I really like the challenge of painting cows, as they rarely stay still in one spot.

I had my panel set up facing the sun, so the light on it and my palette stayed consistent.

I put in more colors as spots of blue sky appeared overhead.

All the great dramatic contrast of shadows and light had disappeared from the meadow.

Hey, that's the nature of plein air one minute, gone the next.  That's what I love about it!

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