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A Fine Season - Perspectives No. 415

A Fine Season

Perspectives No. 415

A Fine Season, Oil, © J. Hulsey
A Fine Season              Oil               John Hulsey

   There are a few times during the year here when seasonal changes arrive in big, noticeable ways. When that happens, we know to drop everything else and get outside to paint while the opportunity is briefly upon us. Our peak period for autumnal color is happening right now, and we have been out working and enjoying this fine season. Much of our winter studio work is based on our seasonal studies, so it is crucial to get down on canvas or paper as much as we can. We never know here in the Midwest exactly when the peak moment will be. It is often eclipsed when a high wind blows in a cold rain, leaving the leaves mostly gone from the forest canopies. We encourage everyone not to put off these moments thinking that they will always come regular as clockwork.

   Our palettes get a hard workout mixing all the wonderful fall colors. We typically use a split primary arrangement—a warm and cool of yellow, red and blue, plus white, black and maybe a couple of other earth tones for added depth. The simpler the better for plein air work. However, our pastel palettes get a complete reworking for the fall, and then again in the winter. Pastels are heavy and bulky, so it makes sense to only carry along what is needed for outdoor work. For fall, we reduce the greens of summer and add a selection of violets, purples and gray-violets to counterpoint the usual oranges, ochres, burnt siennas, russets and warm-to-cool yellows prevalent now in our woods—in total only around 150 sticks in hard, medium and soft. The rapidity and the drawing aspects of pastel work make them particularly appealing in autumn.

   We often paint in watercolor outside as well. Portability, rapidity and an ethereal luminance which only watercolors can deliver are the main attractions to the watercolor medium. This makes them ideal for painting a fall subject, one which is actually changing as we work. Because every momentary condition of the air and sunlight can affect the way watercolor behaves, plein air watercolor work can be far more challenging than either oil or studio watercolor work, taking lots of practice to get comfortable with and proficient at. Here again, a simple split primary palette is most useful. Working on a small sheet is also a good idea.

   No matter your preferred medium, try to get out and paint the fall season wherever you are. It can help to chase away the quarantine blues and give you plenty of wonderful subject matter for those winter days to come.




Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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A Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes

Nocturnes - A Primer on Night Painting

Filled with inspirational examples by the masters of nightime painting, this little book is sure to fire up your creative energies. Never tried painting at night? We show you how it's done with a step-by-step-oil demo and a tale of night painting in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes is a 7 x 7" PDF download with 40 pages of text and images. It includes a gallery of paintings by masters of the nocturne, information to inspire and encourage you in your plein air nocturne painting, an illustrated step-by-step demo and tips for working in pastel and oil. Also available in a softcover edition. Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels in The Artist's Road Store. We only offer things for sale that we enthusiastically believe in.

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About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
About Ann
     About John
 Hulsey Trusty Studios

We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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