Stormy Fields, 12 x 16, oil on panel, L. Daniel © 2020
Today I am revisiting a plein air piece from a dark and turbulent day in 2016. A storm was coming and the sky kept changing with each passing moment. My painting ended up with a sunless sky and a well-lit foreground. Well, which was it? Those fast and furious efforts of mine depicted a contradictory tale. Hmmm...
Problem - Sky plane and ground plane disagreed about the light.
Fix - Muted ground plane and added more "lowlights".
Fix - Lightened the sky plane with soft light in clouds.
Problem - Clouds were flat (they were not rain-laden).
Fix - Gave clouds volume by adding a "light side" to the shapes.
Fix - Reinforced the shadow sides of the clouds (to indicate heaviness and the density of moisture-about-to-burst.)
Fix - Developed cloud layers and filled the whole sky to emphasize their size.
A general "rule" about darks and lights in the landscape is that usually the sky is the lightest plane because that is where the sun lives. Since the ground plane simply reflects the sun's light, it is usually darker than the sky. My original painting had that relationship reversed: the sky was much darker than the ground. (Sometimes a stormy sky can be darker, but this one just wasn't working.)
Also true: Color often appears intensified on a muted, dark day. I did love that intensity, but I totally overdid it with the grasses in my original attempt. As I made other adjustments to make the scene "read" correctly, those needed to be altered too. It was a bit of a toggle...