Larry DeGraff: Capturing Light in Oil Paint

By Lisa Orgler in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

As the sun moves across the sky, it casts shadows and illuminates objects differently than earlier in the day. No one notices this more than an artist painting en plein air. Oil painter, Larry DeGraff is one artist that attempts to capture that fleeting light.

Larry focuses on recreating beautiful landscapes from his natural surroundings, and enjoys splitting his painting time between the indoors and outdoors.

When outside, he can take in the full range of hues and values that a photo cannot reproduce. To fully understand his landscape subject, Larry also soaks in the non-visual elements like weather, smells and sounds.

His studio work is based on quick field studies and photographs. This step allows him to add the final details while not experiencing “a mad dash to capture changing light.” Inside, he can also paint in larger formats, experiment with color choices, and develop brushwork skills at a pace slower than the sun’s movement.


Larry “loves the challenge of finding strong compositions in nature and also trying to capture the sense of light and atmosphere that are unique to each place.”

The strong vertical composition of the trees in the image below, as well as the passing of light through the leaves, gave him exactly that. But now imagine trying to capture this scene as the sun moves across the sky!


These lovely paintings all reflect the Impressionist style, the Hudson River School, and the California Plein Air Painters. You can see it in Larry’s loose brush strokes and in his interest in capturing that fleeting, ephemeral light.


If you don’t have a good excuse to be outdoors today, I’d suggest taking a peek at Larry’s website and experiencing the world outside through his art.


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