I love how gentle undulations of land create swales that hold seasonal waters and invite migrating birds to stop and replenish their energy. This swale was in the central Willamette Valley just south of Portland. I was attracted to the scene’s subtle lighting, color temperatures and reflections in the water. I also enjoyed the somber blue sky and how it contrasted with the warm tones of the foreground.

I started painting in the upper left and finished over and down to the lower right corner, and then I painted it all again. I also glazed the shadow areas in the middle to help pull the eye into the piece. I continued in this manner until I achieved the look I wanted. I continued with detailing the edges between shapes and pulling colors into one another to give a unified look. I worked this into the more highly detailed foreground grass and added the waterfowl feeding in the seasonal pond last.

The interplay of contrasting complementary colors was a key element of the painting, especially the center sky at the horizon line, which included mixtures of oil paint containing thalo blue, manganese violet and white. I changed the ratio in the sunlit area to have a higher incidence of manganese violet as well as the obvious white. It nestled the pink glow firmly at the horizon and further reinforced the sense of depth.