– Jeanne Mackenzie reporting –

In this series, plein air painter and instructor Jeanne Mackenzie takes a look at new paintings by contemporary artists and points out why they succeed as painted images. This week, John Hulsey’s “Smoke.”

Lead Image: “Smoke,” by John Hulsey, watercolor, 12 x 16 in.

This is a wonderful piece that I know was done en plein air. What a difficult task for a watercolor, with the fleeting sun and changing clouds. A photo of the scene would have given the artist limited information. The clouds would have been black, the sunset a stark orange, and the foreground devoid of any texture. Planning the shapes of the sky in watercolor is a challenge as you try to keep the edges soft and ethereal to contrast with the vibrant sun peeking through. The waves are backlit, but they still show the wonderful cool temperature of white in shadow. The scene is infused with the vibrant, yet subtle warm colors of sunset. Still, they are not so over-the-top as to detract from the focal spot of the sun. A beautifully calm piece.

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