I’m so glad you’re here.
I painted a sunset for you!
Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-
leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~ Sunset, Rainer Maria Rilke
Sunsets are one of my very favorite things in the world. Elusive, mysterious, sudden, fleeting. A true gift and as an artist, one of the hardest things to capture. I’ve painted this scene several times and will most likely paint it again. I’m always tweaking and trying new things. Trying to capture something that is over too quickly.
A Temporary Glow
9×9″ pastel and ink on paper by Bethany Fields 2017
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This particular painting developed over time from a couple of photos I’ve taken in the past year. The sunset photo was taken while I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot on a particularly lovely night. The sky went from bright turquoise blue, to crimson, pink, and orange in minutes. I sat and watched it evolve and eventually disappear. It was beautiful. I knew I wanted to paint it but also didn’t love the very dark foreground/earth/horizon. Living in my area of Texas doesn’t afford many views of trees or hills and I’m always seeking ways to add them. This is where one of my favorite artist tricks comes into play. I took another photo of a foreground I liked and combined them! I do this every now and then when I would like more interest in one of the elements. I also used artistic license to play with the field’s rows and with the lighting. As artists, this is our world and our vision. It’s so important to play.
The land/tree mass photo was taken on a trip early last year in the beautiful state of Massachusetts. The day was lovely. Warm and bright with gorgeous blues and clouds. I reduced the scene for my painting and worked on the value of the tree line to keep it in relation to the sunset photo.
You’ll also notice I eliminated the vapor trails in the sunset photo. They form an almost “X” which I didn’t want in my painting. I also edited out the very bright yellow. Sunsets can be intoxicating to paint but sometimes all the colors and vivid saturation can be confusing, cliche, and just too much….
(now for a secret only you blog readers will find out)….In the painting I’ve posted above, I tweaked it after I posted the timelapse. (gasp!) Can you tell how? After filming and editing something bothered me about the piece so I changed something very small. Let me know what you think it is and why you think I did it! ….10 brownie points for the correct answer.
Do you ever combine photo references?
How and why?
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