Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Red Clover Landscape Sketches

About this time every spring many of the fields in the valley west of town turn bright red with the blossoms of red clover which is grown for seed. Most of the fields are pure clover with few weeds, just acres and acres of red blossoms with bright green clover leaves hidden underneath. I spent part of Memorial Day alone at the edge of one such field, taking photos and making some color sketches in my journal, doing enough of the work of looking closely so that some day soon the clover will appear in a painting or two.

The sketch on the left is a color field study, supposedly showing the bands of color as I saw them but I didn't nail the values. In landscape painting the sky is the lightest color... #1, the ground is the second lightest...#2 because it reflects the light from the sky. Hills are darker, being on a slant and relecting some light but not as much as the ground, and the trees are the darkest dark...#4, because they don't reflect light except where the sun hits one side in early morning and late afternoon. Can you see that I got it right in the landscape sketch but not in the color field study? Now I'm on a mission to do my best to paint landscapes in only 4 values until I can do it in my sleep.

This last drawing is full of nostalgia. On the way home I drove out Kaiser Road and stopped at the cemetary that's at the corner of the acreage where we used to live. My children waited for the school bus near these 4 big old trees that stand guard over the cemetary where there's a headstone that states that Charles and Catherine Reimer rest here. Now they are no kin of ours, even though we share the same last name, but when we bought the property we sort of adopted this couple even though he died in 1917, the year my father entered the navy in WWI, and she died in 1944 while we were fighting WWII.

And finally, let me introduce you to "Wilson", a brush that John Lovett gave me. It's an ordinary cheapo throwaway brush from the hardware store, an Australian one (though you can find a similar one in your local hardware store for 79 cents). Wilson is great for lots of things, including fields of red clover, grass, and tree leaves.


  1. I enjoyed the story about adopting Charles and Catherine. Sweet. And as usual, I love the colors you paint.

  2. You really captured the color and feeling of the red clover fields in your color sketches! I love them!

  3. I love and hate this time of year because of the red clover. It's so beautiful - but oh, the allergies!

    Honestly, though - I'm loving your watercolor of the field above - beautiful!

  4. Your sketches are lovely and your watercolor studies show your creative progression.

  5. I tend to shy away from landscape painting although I feel a great affinity to my local landscape. I found your light lesson helpful. I'd never heard the use of light in landscape explained in quite that way.
    Thanks for your recent post about my postcard series. I'll visit your site more frequently because I added you to my blog list.

  6. Anonymous11:52 AM PDT

    Stunning color and I love those trees! Wi
    Wilson looks like he can do the job...

  7. Thanks for your comments. I drove by the red clover fields yesterday and was disappointed that there's no red left, just brown seeds forming where the blooms once were.
    Margaret, the planes of landscape theory is new to me, too, but when Eric Weigardt explained it to me it made so much sense. The dark verticals also applies to poles and fence posts and when I think about this as I work the scene is much more believeable.


I appreciate comments and questions.

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