Flint Hills Sundown Cumulus oil by Matthew Richter


oil on canvas, 2011


Hot summer days linger on the Tallgrass Prairie when fall approaches. Tropical gulf moisture, sun scorched air and cold upper atmospheres boil into isolated forms of summer cumulus thunder cells. Frequently associated with northern frontal boundaries the strong lines of energy drench the dry ground for a few minutes and disappear.

Dusty wind blown air filters the setting sun exploding rich warm hues of reds and oranges in the light complimented by red purples and soft cobalt blues in the shadows.

I have been working the past two years to model clouds as volumes, similar to mountains in the sky. This differs from the usual prairie cloud painters who choose simple flat overlapping shapes, like curtains, to define form and the space that contains them. Modeling the clouds as volumes is complex and time consuming because it requires a matrix of colors which do not have strong specific edges.

What you see here are yellow direct highlights, purple reflections from the ground, blue indigo shadows which absorb light and light cobalt blue highlights which reflect the upper atmosphere. The roundness of clouds requires unique blending of contrasting colors without letting them get muddy.

copyright 2007, Matthew Richter, all rights reserved