by Bob Bahr, Editor PleinAir Today
Ed Cahill found his thrill painting a hill on a friend’s property at a key moment in the autumn season.
“Saturday I spent the afternoon at my favorite spot — Mabry Farm,” Cahill says. “It’s such a joy living close to this fantastic spot. I was greeted by Jim Mabry — busy as usual keeping up with his chores. I also had time to visit with the resident donkey, who demanded ear scratching. I finally got around to this 12” x 12” showing a bit of the season. The fields are burnt this wonderful color that I laid on with a knife.
“I was going to do an 18” x 24” of the pasture with some horses, but I forgot my bigger board. So I wandered around with a 12” x 12” and an 8” x16” and my sketchpad, looking for a good composition. I decided on this bold square with a large dark tree and shadow with the curves of the hill going up to the right. I did a dark underpainting — I tinted to the shadow color of the trees in the background.”
“The real key to this painting was mixing the pasture grass color a bit lighter — a good thick bit of it too — and then putting it on with a knife over that darker lay-in. I tried to follow the contours of the hills and in the end, the dark tree to the right really contrasted with this and worked out pleasing. If you look at the photo, you can see how I exaggerated the color and contrast a bit. I do this for more than one reason, but my primary is that I’ve come to realize that unless you have a spotlight on it, the piece will never have the punch that it did in nature when you bring it inside. This painting feels like I did when I was painting it — very dehydrated. I was without a water bottle, so I called it a day — probably avoiding overpainting it in the process.”