My client had some reference photos of the place he usually hunts with his dogs. Several of the shots had taller trees in the background and blue sky peaking through. Right away, I knew I wanted that feeling of distance.
I kept the trees impressionistic, not wanting to detract from the intended detail of the dogs and birds. But, I wanted the trees to read like trees. My mission: loose trees, but not too loose.
Time to rough in some grasses. As you can see, the bottom right and one spot in the bottom center, have heavy paint strokes. I wasn't sure if I wanted heavy strokes there, but thought I would try it. Something about the effect worked for me, so I kept them thick. With oil, I can always go back and change it later.
I also kept the ground dark and more bare around the birds. This is done so they will be better showcased when I get around to painting them.