This county line painting was painted on location and it was extremely close to the county line. It was a typical Mississippi summer day, with a beautiful haze settling on everything. I just love the old clay roads that can be found all over the state. This is an 18 x 24 oil on panel with lots of broken color.
It just seems like you can drive forever on these old back roads, through the state of Mississippi. The typical earth red, terra rosa clay has as many variations as there are oil paint tube colors to buy. Terra rose is one, burnt sienna another, venetian red a third,and on and on are all variations.
While driving along, I wasn’t really sure as to what I was looking for, but rather how a particular shape or color looks against another, forming an interesting composition. Looking for the “old red barn” or other focal points to paint would limit the possibilities on a discovery safari such as this.
This happened to be one of those hot, humid, cloudy days i decided to go for a country ride, paints all packed up neatly in the back of the car ,in hopes of coming across something to inspire me enough to stop and try to capture on canvas.
Painting The Piece From Start To Finish
I found a spot, and set up to paint, when a very strange feeling came over me. I had the feeling I was being watched. I passed it off as “just the heat” and continued to set up.
This was a beautiful vantage point, and I started to capture the moment. First the sky,with its beautiful soft clouds floating by, then the atmospheric blue haze over the trees in the far distance, and then the rich red clay road to the left of the composition. It had rained the day before and the puddles in the red road were like mirrors reflecting the ultramarine blue of the sky in each wet spot of the road.
The next step was to try to paint all the variations of green in the different trees before me. I used sap green for the warm greens, and phalo green for the cools.
I was careful to try and capture the spirit of the trees, rather than a botanical inventory of the incredible flora that grew before me.
Next was the light on the field in the distance , which was a beautiful invitation to pull the viewers eye into the picture plane. Last was the foreground full of every type of weed known to man! Everything from yellow black eyed Susans, to a vivid purple flower that grew among them. This was natures way of showing off her natural compliments.
I used thick impasto paint in the foreground. Those of you who know me are aware that I love creating these impasto painting of fields and creeks. To capture the feeling of standing the the middle of this luscious array of flora, and it acted as “eye candy’ for an excuse to use some pure pigment to entertain the viewers eye.
Now for the strangest part of the experience . For the whole time I was painting, I had the feeling I was not alone. On my way back to the car,as I put my supplies away, I noticed a small humble road connecting to the “main” road I was parked on. For some reason I decided to wander down for another point of view. Perhaps another painting was going to present itself. Instead was a small graveyard of perhaps a dozen or so graves with barely recognizable markers for gravestones.
This was one of those moments that was solemn , and at the same time filled me with many unanswered questions. I suppose its just as easy to believe this was the reason i felt I was being watched, as not.
The life of a painter is filled with surprises for which I’m thankful for each day. I think that’s a huge part of the excitement for me. Not knowing whether I’m going to be on location in the middle of a field, forest or possibly at the coffee shop or my studio creating a portrait painting of an old man. None of it gets old….only I!