I’m not fond of margarine, but I did sneak out to paint this afternoon, hoping for another shot at a picture I began a few days ago under blinding sunshine. What I found, however, was an apocalypse fast on its way from the west where, presumably, somebody had yet again fooled Mother Nature with a blob of Chiffon.
At times like this, you can either give up or go with the flow. I had exactly one piece of mounted kraft paper, sized with shellac, left from the seventy I made in February. Clearly the time had come to attempt an oncoming deluge. Only two guys I can think of who’ve ever really done justice to this sort of thing. One was Rembrandt, in a marvelous series of etchings. The other was Constable. Today it was my turn.
Which got the sensation of imminent storm better, the snapshot or the oil sketch? I’d have to say the snapshot, with its values pitched far lower than on the painting above. I think there is a simple explanation for why that is. I simply could not believe what I was seeing. Sure, the sky was dark, but that dark? Apparently so. Dark enough, in fact, that the treeline in the photo is pretty much lost against the slate gray sky. Still, working on paper with big brushes and maybe ten minutes before the sky was to come down on my head, the operative procedure was to grab it the best I could and hope for the best.
But taking it home and examining its shortcomings it occurred to me that maybe I could put the damn thing in Photoshop and fool Mother Nature. Might a couple of adjustments in contrast and value bring things a little closer to what the day actually offered?
Possibly this was taking things too far down the value scale,
This was a little more like it. Although, note to self, next time I blunder into an oncoming storm, try losing the edge of the treeline against the murk.
By the time I began packing up, lightning was flashing in the distance. This held distinct possibilities. There was no time to attempt to paint it, but I used the edge of my palette knife to score the outlines of the lightning. If you look close, you can see where the knife removed a thin needle of paint.
Usually the lightning comes after you fool Mother Nature, but I figured as long as I was mucking around with my oil sketch, I might as well go all the way. So I added some lightning.
So it went. I’m going to be on the lookout for afternoon lightning storms in the remaining weeks of summer, because they’re a pretty exciting little light show. I suppose if the skies insist on remaining clear, I can always offer Mother Nature some Chiffon on a cracker, and see what happens.
Heck, it always worked on TV.