Lost creek cliffs…

October 17, 2013

The recent rains have overflowed many of our creek beds including Barton Creek.  More importantly we are beginning to see the edges of fall colors too!  But not before the wildflowers have one more crazy burst of colors.  So I ventured out to Lost Creek to find a bit of inspiration from our great weather and local terrain.

Lost Creek Cliffside Trail 2013_10_17

Lost Creek Cliffside Trail 2013_10_17

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Thursday paint out  offered a chance to capture the play of morning light on the lower cliffs along the swollen rushing creek bed of Lost Creek in the west hills of Austin.
It was a bit crisp for an early start but the warm sun very energizing.  It was a nice change to paint the early kiss of fall colors beginning to transform our landscapes.

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Barr Mansion Carriage House. 7x5. 2011.07.21

Plein Air painting “on the spot” will get you out the studio and give you a chance to take a drive and find new places to see fresh colors and shadows.

This weeks paint out with the Plein Air Austin group was hosted out at Barr Mansion outside Austin.  The staff at Barr Mansion have done a beautiful job creating an inspiring space to spend  a morning painting.  It was hard to choose just one spot. The 7″x5″ painting above is of the carriage house nestled in the summer gardens.  Location influences a lot of outside painting.  There are many beautiful spots but painting in direct sun is bad news, and an even bigger health risk these day in the heat. I’ll just have to go back to look for a different spot on another day.

The goal was to capture the play of sun light on the building in the early morning shadow patterns.  Plein-air painting requires quick accurate painting to capture the moment before sun moves higher and the shadow patterns and color temperatures begin to change.

I decided I needed a warm light /cool shadow focus to relate the summer conditions.  Next, I work out a pencil sketch to be sure what i am intending to paint will fit on the canvas.  Then mix out a limited value and color range.  For plein air, I limit myself to 8 tubes of paint.  R (Alizarin) Y (lemon yellow) B (Ultramarine and Cerulean for sky) +white, +black, sometimes adding a green or cadmium depending on the lighting and subject. Everything I need can be mixed from these.  Then I set about painting shapes and values that reflect what has captured my interest today.

Some small plein-air paintings can come together in a hour to hour and half.  Anything past that and the light has begun to shift significantly from where you started the painting that it can quickly turn in to a night mare if you are unaware of how long you have been working.  Not to mention risk sunburn and heat stroke in the Texas weather.

A fair days painting for a fair day of triple digit temps.

*I will post a picture below to show my easel setup on site just before I came home.