Moody Skies

Moody Skies

I will be showing a series called “Moody Skies” at Trackside Studios, 375 Depot St. in Asheville’s River Arts District October 1-31. You are  cordially invited to a reception Sunday, October 8 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.

Early in my painting career in Florida, I was always attracted by color,  influenced by a Betty Edwards book, Color, emphasizing bright, strong colors in painting, and by a workshop with Scott Christiansen, whose paintings feature warm, western landscapes. These colorful paintings were particularly suited to sunny Florida; some patrons described these as “happy paintings.”

In Western North Carolina, I continued to use the same bright color palette and was guided by spots of bright color in choosing a composition.. One rainy day, however, I huddled in a recessed doorway and painted one of my favorite works- a pasture and mountains partly obscured by a stormy sky. This atmospheric painting suddenly opened my eyes to the unique beauty of North Carolina of fog rolling in and out, luminous sunsets, storms approaching, misty distant mountains, and huge banks of fat white clouds.”

Moody Afternoon, Oil, 9 x 12 in.

The transition to moody, atmospheric landscapes was not easy. Atmospheric paintings require close values of dark and light and colorful grays; “happy paintings” use strong contrasts of dark and light and bright color to capture the feel of sunny days.

I first tried various changes in paints by including one or more muted or unsaturated colors to mix the colorful grays of the atmospheric landscape. I then began to appreciate the need for careful control of values.

To control values, I experimented with monochrome underpaintings in burnt sienna as a base for the color painting. I had instruction in how to do this early on, but did not understand why anyone would. It seemed a lot of preparation to get to the ‘real’ painting. I finally realized that it is easier to get values right without color, which saves time in correcting later on.

In addition to an opportunity to check composition before painting in color, the underpainting cues proper color mixes – I hold a loaded brush of the color mix next to a value in the underpainting to match it.

Moody Mountain, Oil, 12 x 16 in.

Now it is a pleasure to do the underpaintings, and I find them beautiful in themselves- I sometimes hesitate to go on with color.

I look forward to seeing you at the reception on October 8th at Trackside.  If I have not seen you lately, please do re-introduce yourself so I can thank you for following my posts.



  1. Diana DeVaughn
    September 10, 2017

    I met you briefly when visiting the area, so am unable to see your shows but enjoy your posts. Best luck in you new perspective


    • VirPenderAdmin
      September 22, 2017

      Sorry you can’t make it to the show but I appreciate your support of my art. Virginia


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