Summer Solstice




Summer Solstice
Xwaaqw’um XIII
oil on birch panel, 48″ x 28″

A magical evening light sweeps across the fields as the grasses and trees ripple in a sudden warm wind blowing in from the bay. My easel is already set up, and I am ready to do three large rapid sketches with black, white and sienna conté crayons (known as “la méthode des trois crayons”), where I state the composition in basic values as the light recedes from the near field to the far one, and the shadows lenghten. I snap some photos to capture the vivid colours before they seep from the meadows up into the sky.

Back in my studio the next day, I choose the most promising sketch and get it blocked in onto my prepared birch panel…then I begin to paint, with yesterday’s memory fresh in my mind. I’d been prepared for the evening light, as had noticed while sketching in the valley over the preceding week how exquisite it is at this time of day in June. The west wind, however, was an unexpected bonus, bringing an energising movement to the scene, which I happily incorporated as a major element in the finished painting.

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