I love plein air painting in late September and October.
In my neck of the woods, we can have great weather well into November.
The weather’s generally drier, there are few bugs and you don’t need to go overboard with green paint.
Green, Green And That Other Green
Green is a problem for lots of beginning painters. One problem is learning which yellows and blues make which green hues. There are about a zillion combinations to create green, and most beginning painters don’t own a lot of different blue and yellow paints. They may only have Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow Medium. Or they may have splurged and purchased Chromium Oxide Green and Hooker’s Green Dark.
That still leaves most of a zillion other greens to be created. As you get more involved with your painting, you’ll probably invest in some additional paints. Adding other yellow and blue color choices to your palette not only gives you more variety in those shades, but it also opens up the number of green shades you can create as well.
Okay, that’s enough about green. I was sidetracked for a moment.
Autumn Jewel Tones
Painting autumn landscapes is a really refreshing, spontaneous exercise. You can add as many variations of fall colors as you’d like. You can go extravagantly brilliant with your gold, red and orange foliage, or you can tone your palette down to very soft and subtle hues.
Combinations of Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Ochre, Gamboge and Burnt Sienna are all colors you’ll probably use on your palette.
You can expose interesting branches as the leaves fall from the trees, and the scenery becomes more mottled and randomly colored. Just as in nature, paint some areas with subdued colors while a focal point can pop with a burst of dramatic hues. Painting more of the branches adds interest to your painting and can direct the eye if you’re attempting to draw the viewer to a particular area of interest or focal point.
Meadows Ready For Harvest
That wide expanse of green field that often competes with the surrounding trees and shrubs for the ‘Brightest Green Award” has slowly shifted to soft gold, ochre and tan tones. The fields and open hills may still be dotted with some areas of green, but they’re almost finished for the year.
You’ll find so many colors when you really stop and examine the hues that make up the various grasses and leaves in the field. While Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre will be center front on your palette, you’ll be able to use a few greens and even reds to add depth and diversity to your grasses.
You’ll basically use the same palette as you used for your foliage, but tone down or eliminate the orange and bright red shades.
Leave The Green Behind
You probably can’t totally delete all green from your painting, but you don’t need to worry about it too much. In most autumn paintings, green can be a secondary color used like a neutral.
You won’t need vibrant greens. Fall greens are less intense, and a bit duller than their spring counterparts appear. Of course, the one exception to this are the evergreen trees.
Evergreen trees and shrubs are going to maintain their crisp, deep hue year around. This is sort of a bonus to add variety of both shape and colors to your composition.
So, grab your sweater, pack a lunch and get yourself outdoors for some fall plein air painting. Come February, when it’s miserable and cold, you’ll have warm memories of your excursion to go with that fall landscape in your portfolio.