There were fluffy clouds around all day today but it was warm and sunny for the most part, making it the second sunny day so far this summer.

I headed out to the Porongurups this evening and found a pleasant spot off the side of Knights Road, looking south toward the mountains. The cloud cover had increased and there were a lot of cloud shadows, especially on the distant hills, but the foreground was bathed in sunlight.

I set up and started painting, taking careful note of the major shadows cast by the foreground and mid-ground trees. This was to prove prophetic as the clouds soon rolled in and before long, nothing was in sunlight. I continued painting with an image firmly in my mind. It was quite pleasant as things don’t change much when it’s cloudy – but I needed to be careful to not go painting too much detail in the shadow side of my main tree (shadow areas become more detailed in the absence of bright, direct light).

Eventually the sun peeked through for a few minutes and I took this opportunity to put highlights on the main trees and some of the sunlit grass.

plein air porongurup landscape painting western australia

After I took the photo, I made a few more additions and adjustments, including reworking the clouds which looked too heavy and somewhat dull.

I stayed fairly true to the scene before me. The only “major” change I made was to turn the two foreground trees into just one as they were almost in line from where I stood to paint. I also made the mountains slightly taller so they didn’t “kiss” the top of the that tree. Compositionally, it’s best to have edges either overlapping or not touching at all rather than just touching.

I used just one square, synthetic brush on almost the entire painting. It’s a brush I’ve owned for years but I think this is the first time I’ve used it – I usually use square or filbert bristle brushes. The synthetic brush is more pliable and cleans much more easily than the bristle brushes. I think I’ll be using it again for my plein air work.