Morning, Aspens in Autumn

Here is a little evolutionary study. I have been thinking for a long time about painting more the way we see and perceive; so that the center of the painting is clear and ‘realistic’, but the edges are less defined. I have, I suspect, many years ahead of working this out.

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Here I started with a fairly loose painting of a scene I found in the Sangre De Christo Mountains early one fall morning. I neglected to take a photograph of any earlier stages, including the ochre to blue to yellow graduated underpainting…
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First I focused on tightening up the center of the image and leaving the rest to steep in my mind. I left the underpainting towards the edges and just indicated the trees there.
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The scumbly quality of the yellow canopy bothered me, so I cleaned it up a bit and added a little more detail in the trees at center. After each of these stages I worked on other things while I thought about it. This stage irritated me when I looked at it.
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Now where I left the underpainting on the trees at the edges bothered me, so I worked enough on them to show the darkness there, and just began a little to show some detail in the foreground. There are, if you look close, still pen and felt marker marks in places, particularly in the small branches.
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Here’s the final painting. A LOT of time went by as I kept looking at this. I decided I wanted to show the differentiation in the yellow leaf canopy, and worked on the foreground more, as well as cleaning up lots of other areas. There are things I love about the first stab at this, but I think it will take a while to be able to get both qualities in one painting!
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Finally, a brief word about photography. I work from photographs that I take when I am pretty far away from civilization, and usually at the early and late ends of the day, or else in the middle of the night. I learn a lot from plein air painting, and intend to do more of it, but usually the scenes that I am moved to paint are momentary and change quickly, as well as being wicked hard to get to with painting gear. I shoot RAW images, and then grade them in Lightroom to be more like what I saw or want to see. Here is the original image before being graded.
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This is the same photograph after being graded…

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