It was not a dark and stormy night, it was a blazingly dry and hot August afternoon and I was looking for something to do in the studio. I had just bought Scott Christensen's marvelous book "The Nature of Light". I found an image of a 6x8 painting of his in the section on studies. So I did my best to copy it, sipping on an iced tea in the cool studio.
One can learn a lot from copying a painting, in this case keeping the four values planes (uprights, slanted planes, flat land and sky) separate. That is, each has a range of values which is different from the others. In addition, this painting's focal point is clearly the tree in the middle. He uses various means to make this clear: color, contrast, detail, edges and lines - notice the shadows in the foreground point to the tree. The tree is surrounded by a much lighter sky. There is a lot of detail in the tree compared to the surrounding tree line, etc. Finally, the nearer clouds are warmer than those in the distance. This little study is a wonderful art lesson. Thanks, Scott!