“The challenge of painting outdoors, en plain air, allows close observation of nature’s light and colors, yet requires speed and memory to capture fleeting conditions. Nature displays endless moods; each day, hour or minute presents something new.” Kevin Macpherson
These beautiful island mountains are definitely a challenge for me! Early in the morning – one of my favorite times to paint – the conifer covered mountains can appear green if the sun is out. They get bluer and hazier as the day wears on. Late in the afternoon or evening the mountains may have an orange or pink cast to them from the setting sun. If it’s cloudy the mountains are dark grey with either a blue or green tint to them. One can’t forget how the atmosphere also impacts the color – cool or warm – of a mountain, too!
The water also takes on the colors of the sky – something I’ve known but it seems to happen here more dramatically. Perhaps because many of the painting spots I’ve been to have been large vistas where I can see multiple mountain islands in straits or channels and varied skies in one view.
I am frequently studying one of the art books I brought to help me improve my work. The past few days it’s been Kevin Macpherson’s book “Fill Your Paintings With Light and Color”.
Sometimes, as I take off to paint, Dave, on his bike, and Terry & Sue in their truck, explore the island. They have been wonderful scouts who see great painting spots as they adventure out on hiking trails and forest roads. On our last day in Wrangell Terry & Sue returned back at camp and told me I had to go to Three Sisters Lookout to paint the view before we caught the 3:00am ferry.So, I headed out one more time up a single lane forestry road to find another spectacular view of the entire Zimovia Strait. The water was many colors – glacier run off that was a rusty yellow ochre, light blue spots that reflected the clear sky, greyed blues that reflected moisture filled clouds, and greyed greens reflections of the islands.
Whether I’ve been tempted to fling a poorly executed canvas off the cliff – paintings I call “flingers” – or I’m able to capture those “fleeting conditions” in a way that captures the light, movement and essence of a place I am amazed and blessed to be on this plein air journey.