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norrissglasses.com11/17/2012 4:15:13 PM

Massing a Mess

Jolyn Wells-Moran / 1 Comment

"After the Rain," 12" x 9," oil
"After the Rain," 12" x 9," oil

Beginning a painting of the desert here in Baja Sur always starts with a huge sigh. There's so much scrubby vegetation that hills appear fuzzy. Bushes obscure the larger masses. Values are often so close that it's difficult to discern shapes of bushes and small trees. It's taken me awhile to learn to ignore the scrub for the larger masses and then to simplify the details, a challenge we all face as painters anywhere to be sure, but here I've found the vegetation particularly distracting. Not so much now, though. I finally learned to simplify masses here in favor of the compromise between the composition I want and the one that's there -- while igoring the vegetation and then, coming back to it later.

In the painting, "After the Rain," the landscape is largely of varying greens -- it had rained hard here awhile back, which always brings the desert from browns, golds and grays to suddenly grren life. As a native of the northwestern US, this doesn't faze me much here because the greens are varied enough, shadows really do have color and enough other colors, values and shapes exist in the vegetation that the greens are more easily controlled than in the evergreen states.

We paint. We learn.

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1 Response to Massing a Mess

norrissglasses.comSaw your The Baja Western Onion - Jan 26, 2016 posting ... great to know about but doing SMA this year. I would like to read your Plein Air Painting ebook. Huel great work here on your site


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