Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Sunrise 12-16-06" plein air oil painting -- on 9x12" birch panel
I'd been thinking about painting this view for weeks. It was on my mind all week at work. Finally I woke up at 3 AM this morning, jumped out of bed (startling the cats) and made coffee. Gathered my gear and set off early for Kensington Metropark. I wanted to have my easel set up, paints on the palette, brush in hand for the glorious sunrise I'd been lusting for. Southeast Michigan is notorious for its endless string of dark, gloomy days, but I think that is when we see some of the most dramatic sunrises. If you haven't ever tried painting the shimmering pinks, peaches, golds and reds of a sunrise or sunset, you would have no idea of how nearly impossible it is to duplicate those colors! Add white to red to make pink -- and you usually end up with a muddy, grayed-out pink. And take a look at the red color reflecting in the water on the right. Isn't that almost obscene? Sunrises & sunsets are very sensual! I've seen colors in sunsets that made me blush! I parked at the Nature Center parking lot, loaded my gear into my "bag lady" folding wire grocery cart, and walked a short distance over to this view. The lake is partically drained for the winter to avoid ice damage to the boat docks. So the dark spots you're seeing in the foreground is some of the lake bottom. It's been unusually warm here, and the lakes haven't frozen yet. Only the thinnest sheet of ice shows at daybreak. To the left, out of range of this painting, was a small flock of Canada geese, snoozing on the ice. They were waking up and honking with excitement at the new day. Was it cold? A little. Right around freezing, with a slight wind. It's a bone-chilling experience to stand rock-still in winter while painting, so I had piled on layers and layers of hi-tech long underwear and goosedown. Too much -- I was sweating! Maybe I'll do a larger "studio" painting, based on this plein air study. And I know I'll certainly be doing a lot more daybreak paintings! They're a blast!