If you haven't been to Damascus (Virginia that is!) and biked the Virginia Creeper Trail, I highly recommend it! Matthew and I took a van to the top of a mountain and then pretty much applied brakes for 18 miles as beautiful views passed by. Not exactly aerobic exercise, but if you want that then you can always skip the van and bike up :)
We saw this view on the second day, though, when the terrain was fully pedal-powered.
I was drawn to the way the delicate, misty background gave added weight and substance to the foreground hay bales, as well as the way the gravel path leads from one to the other.
I started with thin oil paint and sketched the basic placement of the main objects:
Since I knew I wanted to keep the background soft, I began with the sky and subtly worked my way down so that I could better judge how dark the hay bales should be.
After completing the rest of the painting I tweaked the background a bit and am really pleased with the "mood" of this painting, even though it's not my traditional subject of sunlight and shadows.
Misty Hay Day, 8x10 Oil, available
Here's the photo vs. oil painting for easy comparison.