Every season has its charm: winter is introspection; spring is promise of renewal; summer is energy; and fall is last hurrah. Finding inspiration in these seasons is part of what makes landscape painting so enjoyable. We know that change is inevitable. Our subject matter is never still. As the earth wobbles on its axis, the seasons come and go. We might have our favorite, even one that finds us producing the most work, but fall seems to be the one most often mentioned for its visual stimulation. The transition from greens to warm yellows, oranges, and reds never seems to disappoint. Every region has its personality on display; see what southern Oregon has to offer in the photo at left.
Areas with an abundance of hardwoods will put on the most spectacular of shows: Maple, birch, aspen, alder, elm, cottonwood, and even oak have their special palettes. Bu even the brushes of the desert add their notes of color to make fall one of the most inspiring, if fleeting, times of year.
Due to the juxtaposition of cool and warm, these autumn scenes are often difficult to portray without looking artificial. The unsuspecting landscape painter, whose paintings of winter, spring, and summer work well, often winds up struggling to make a vibrant fall scene look respectable. A suggestion that might make this stimulating time of year a little easier to handle: Choose a dominant color temperature for the painting. Imbue all the color choices with that temperature as a means of unifying what could otherwise be a painting made up of opposing color families. An example would be choosing a warm color temperature and then toning the intense blue sky and green grasses down a bit in chroma (intensity) to better unify it with the bright intense warm tones that dominate the painting. By graying the cooler tones, they will become naturally warmer and better allow the warms to dominate the painting. A cooler temperature would affect the chroma (intensity) of the fall foliage, making it slightly grayed and better unifying it with the intense cool sky and grasses. By choosing one color temperature to be of the highest chromatic intensity, a painting that represents even the most exciting of color variations (like yellow, red, and orange adjacent to blue and green) will harmonize.
Enjoy what fall has to offer; soon winter will be upon you and another inspiration will be taking your hand.