"During lilac week in my garden, I paint outdoors and in the studio with great motivation since lilacs bloom for such a short time. The strong sunlight and background shadows on this painting, done directly "from the bush", were a joy to work with." --- SFG
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Finally, we have a warm spring day instead of the weeks of rain that have characterized this spring in my part of California. The lilacs are in full bloom, so I'm setting up next my largest bush.
I elect to paint these clusters near the top of the bush. The shadow on the right in the background gives me the element that created the darks in the background of the painting.
When plein air painting, I use fewer colors and smaller canvases. Not only is it difficult to complete a larger canvas (24" x 30" and larger) before the light changes, but the panel can turn into a sail if the wind whips up.
I place the main elements, being sure that they are not repetitious in size or shape. I make sure that they are not in the middle of the painting.
I add subordinate shapes and indicate the shadow across the background.
And wash in that dark shape.
Here, I indicate the shadow side of the blooms and vary their color accordingly.
Lastly, for this covering-the-canvas stage, I add the darks of the leaves as a mass connected to the blooms and the background shadow.
When I mass the lit areas of the background, I'm careful to vary the colors of the foreground versus the background, making the top lighter and cooler.
At this stage, I have added detail to the leaves, blooms, and branches. The contrast between the shadow and lights in the flowers makes the sparkle.
Even though this is a smaller palette than the one in my studio, I still use the same mixing method and scrape it often to have clean color.
When I returned to the easel after lunch, I did not like the V-shape of the branch of the lilac bush and decided to darken the left side, merging the shapes.