Ellis County Blues - 9x12 oil on Gessobord
Looking for bluebonnet fields to paint, Doug Clark and I drove out to the Ennis area last Saturday just east of Waxahachie. With their annual Bluebonnet Festival, Ennis is the unofficial bluebonnet Capital of Texas - I hear that Burnet lays claim to the "Official" title. Neither of us was familiar with the area so we blindly drove around looking for distant patches of blue. After a few u-turns and dog legs through the countryside we settled on Liska Road near Lakeview Drive.
It took me a good 30 minutes to decide on my composition. I wanted to have a nice contrast of blooms in both shade and sunshine. This spot was perfect because the direction of the sun was parallel with the road so the shade from the cedar trees was the same throughout the session. Shade is not usually a constant when painting outdoors.
My painting is a good example of the importance of establishing your values from the start. Mine were a little off. I think my foreground blues were too light to capture the rich royal blue of a Texas bluebonnet but I couldn't make them darker because of the mid-value blues just behind them in the shade. It would have been better if I had made each a bit darker in value in the initial stages. As it is, the sunlit flowers are a little too pale in my opinion. Other than that, I'm happy with the results.
Doug has planned for a group of Dallas/Fort Worth plein air painters to come out this way on Saturday (April 20) so we packed up and headed out to scout a few more locations on the way home. We stumbled upon Love Park, which is a Corp of Engineers facility on the shores of Lake Bardwell. The bluebonnets are more plentiful here than on Liska Road, and the ladies will appreciate the nearby restrooms. That weekend is supposed to be the peak of the short-lived blossoms and as seasons go, this looks to be one of the best for wide-spread color.