As Luck Would Have It, Pastel, Private Collection
Driving along back roads is one of my favorite things to do for inspiration. I take my camera with me to capture an abundance of reference photos while also scouting out plein air painting locations. On this particular summer day, I found myself on the edge of a thunderstorm. The storm was to the side of my location, so no chance of rain, but the sky was amazing so I pulled over to take some pictures. The cloud forms making up the structure of the storm cell were gorgeous and the sun was still shining low in the sky behind me, making the fields practically glow against the backdrop of the dark-gray sky. While I was photographing a rainbow appeared, making this already incredible set of weather conditions over-the-top.
I started to wonder if it would be possible to paint the scene in real-time. I pulled out the mini pastel kit I keep in the car and set up as quickly as possible. To begin the painting, I roughed in a quick color sketch to capture the lighting conditions. Then, knowing the rainbow and storm were fleeting, I worked on the sky. The rainbow stuck around for what seemed like forever and I was able to completely paint it before I watched it fade away.
As the storm moved further into the distance I worked on the corn fields. Rendering the color sketch at the beginning was helpful, as it allowed me to document the unusual quality of light right at the edge of the storm.
I've been able to photograph quite a few storms for use as painting references, but this was the only time I've ever been able to paint a storm plein air. It certainly was an usual and lucky set of circumstances.
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