This is the painting for Day 4 #stradaeasel
It was another beautifully warm day. I think it got up to 45 degrees. This feels like spring weather and someone told me they had a wasp in their house today. What???!!!
The benefit was that I could go out and paint comfortably for an hour and a half. I chose my sister’s place. My sister and brother-in-law purchased a lot that is about a 2-minute walk from us where they will begin building their retirement home.
Their land is undeveloped with a 180-degree view that includes Flathead Lake, Woods Bay along with Yenne Point, Crane Mountain to the southeast, and trees surrounding the acre of what was previously a cherry orchard, which previously before that was virgin wilderness. The land is still connected to the Flathead National Forest which is home to eagles, deer, bear, and mountain lions.
I usually choose to do a Woods Bay view from their lot but today the sun came out for just a little while and I turned toward Crane Mountain. The sun was going down in the southwest and dappling the slope with golden hues. It didn’t last long but I was there to enjoy it and record it in my mind’s eye. In my painting, I tried to capture the magic of the light glowing on the trees, grasses, and mountain side.
I had to work fast with my pastels and I couldn’t spend much time refining details. When painting outdoors, my goal is to capture the notes of color and value. I have to highlight or mute some elements to achieve atmospheric perspective. Sometimes it’s a guessing game…who I am kidding?…often it is a guessing game!
This scene’s title is “Winter Light”. The pastel is 12″ wide x 9″ tall and the oil is 8″ x 6″. If the two paintings look a little off kilter from one another, that’s because they are. The pastel is a different proportion than that of the oil. I have more width with the pastel and in this composition I think it worked better than the oil. The pastel dimensions are significantly larger than the oil and I’m able to achieve more detail. Of course, I’m still feeling my way around with oils and brushes so I have to be patient and let my technique develop. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Just for fun, I included a photo of the scene and the pastel study.

©Francesca Droll, Winter Light Plein Air set up