27 January 2014


Starland - 16x20" - Oil on birch panel

I normally paint using a reference image or plein air, but not always. Many of my Vision Quest series come to me as dreams, and trying to find reference images to complete them is next to impossible. Sometimes, as is the case with this image, I get an idea for something I want to paint, but I don't have any reference images.

Since winter lasts 6 months of the year up here, I figure I should paint some winter scenes. I've been wanting to go out to paint plein air for awhile but never manage to get there. I also wanted a painting with sheep, since we used to raise the critters and I still am partial to them. So I thought I'd just 'give it a go'.

Giving it a go never works out so good. Having an idea in your head, and being able to get that idea onto canvas are two different things.

1st Attempt
I really wasn't satisfied with this first attempt. There doesn't really seem to be a clear focal area, and it's just a little too pale and it lacked the depth I had originally wanted. So back to the drawing board.......

2nd Attempt
At least this was becoming more of the prairie scene I'd originally envisioned. I traded the more defined sheep for farm buildings, and darkened the fog bank on the horizon. But I felt it still was lacking. At this point I was ready to abandon it and move on to something with a reference. I actually did move on to and painted a summer scene.

Perhaps it is just plain stubbornness, perhaps it was the expense of the birch panel, but I couldn't admit defeat on this one. I did some further darkening to get more value contrast, refined the foreground and eliminated many of the lines running willy nilly throughout the foreground, and created a bit more depth to the horizon.

I'm glad I didn't abandon the painting altogether when I got frustrated and was ready to throw it in the burning bin. I ended up learning a few things while creating this painting which will can only help future paintings. I am on a mission to create the effect of mist or fog but will wait until I have a good reference image.