He was known to do heavily rendered paintings outside. I have a friend who lives in that area of Russia and told me what may be part of Ivan's secret. It stays light in the summer there halfway through the night. That would be a big advantage to a landscape painter doing tight rendering.
Looking at the painting a number of things are noticeable. I believe I will load up a few bullets and blaze away at it.
- Shishkin is working from left to right, which is a bit unusual today, but wouldn't have been particularly unusual in that day.
- He probably had a pencil or charcoal drawing made on location, but this may have been done on location as well. This is an academic and not an impressionist painting.
- He has painted the foliage in and then is going back into it with a darkened sky not.That is a little different, but logical. He gets those big masses in and maintains them, drilling decorative patterns of holes through them with that sky note.
- Shiskin has painted the lights with that yellow green so the whole painting is tied together by that unifying note. It also is a very effective color for showing the sunlight.
- His shadows are painted a warm violet which is the compliment of that color in the light.
- He is working on a white ground with no tone over it, "rub in" or underpainting.
- Each of the two big trees has another leaning to the right behind it. That gives a rhythmic flair to the painting.
- The tree on the left and the top part of the tree on the right are placed against a dark background. That makes them pop. The contrast between that dark and the illuminated trunks really takes our eye to that area. That is a tonal climax, that is the lightest light and the darkest dark are placed together at the center of interest. That's a handy trick to know.
- Most of the lines in the painting carry the viewer up and to the right, giving as rising buoyant feeling to this sunny painting.