Friday, November 28, 2008


9x4 inch plein air oil painting
by Tom Brown

To purchase this painting, email me at

The desert seems to stretch endlessly into the distance, and it has a way of making one feel humble and small. In the middle of nowhere this private home was nestled among a tiny oasis of shade trees. It was an irresistible temptation and I pulled off the road to capture it in this painting.

For those who are interested I shot photos at different stages of the painting as it developed. Below is the initial stage. I had sketched the big shapes of the composition with thinned ochre on a brush, then blocked in the darkest tones of the house and trees using a mixture of cadmium red and ultramarine blue. Next I captured the pattern of shadows on the mountains with a bluish gray.
With the shadows on the mountains established (above), I began to capture the color and tones of the sunlit area of the mountains using various mixtures of the three primaries and white (see below). Because they were so far in the distance, the values and colors of the mountains were much more subdued than the color and tones of the home and stand of trees. By accurately capturing the relative values of these two key areas I was able to establish a feeling of depth.

After completing the mountain range in the stage shown above I developed the roadway, desert floor and sky areas of the painting (see image below). Despite the sense of isolation in this landscape, I feel it has a restful and serene feeling of peacefulness. To see an enlarged view click the image of the completed painting at the top of this post.

Thanks for stopping. I hope you enjoyed looking over my shoulder as I worked. Comments are always welcome.

Today’s happy thought:
The vastness of the desert


Blogger Mark Landes said...

Everything is there -- the essence of plein air - and shared. Thanks your generosity. I've always wondered what lives are played out in those isolated farm houses (often with a palm tree or two).

8:26 AM  
Blogger helan said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


10:20 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Wow I can hear the road sounds. The car sounds, the tire sounds. I am so looking forward to getting the CDs in my hands so that I can view them in silence, I can't get much out of your website when I am here at the law library where everyone is so loud, fighting, bickering, its awful, my concentration is really tested. Everyone thinks that they are in court all of the time, they never shut up. -Carol

3:46 PM  

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