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Step by Step Oil Painting Tutorial
'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn'
by John O'Keefe Jr.

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COMPOSITION AND MATERIALS

Painting tutorial composition sketch for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr.
Composition sketch

This was my fourth oil painting and first original composition. Using pencil and paper, I roughed out this simple sketch. I decided to use a canvas size of 12x16. Prior to this painting I would select colors from a large pallet of oil paints that I have in my studio, and I did little mixing of colors on my own. However, this painting was the first time I used a limited color pallet.

  • Support: Pre-Stretched & Mounted Medium Textured Cotton Canvas (Acrylic Primed)
  • Size: 12 x 16 inch
  • Medium: Winsor & Newton 'WINTON' Student Grade Oil Paints
    (Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Titanium White, Raw Umber, Cadmium Red, and Lemon Yellow)
  • Finish: Winsor & Newton Dammar varnish

STEP-BY-STEP OIL PAINTING

(Note: The progress photos are not the best quality with regard to accurate color representation. However, the "Finished Painting" photos at the bottom are representative of the actual colors.)

Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 1

Day 1

Using a medium sized brush I blocked in the sky, distant land features, near land features, and the initial layer of the dirt road.


Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 2

Day 2

The painting had far to much blue so I began making changes to the sky colors, distant last features, and field. I blocked in, using raw umber, my hills to the left and right, and added details to the dirt road such as the wagon tracks. Finally I began to add lighting and shadows across the field and road.


Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 3

Day 3

It was time to add the house and the smaller trees next to it. The house was positioned in front of a large field. The hills to the left and right were populated with small trees and shrubs.



COMPOSITION IDEAS FOR ADDING TREES

I originally intended to add trees to this painting, however after the trial runs I was unsure about adding them. The final painting does not have trees. One day (If I do not varnish the painting first) I may go back and add trees when I feel more comfortable creating them.

Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - John's composition ideas 1
Computer experimentation with trees

Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - John's composition ideas 2
Painted glass overlay with trees.

Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 4 animation
Before/After Animation.

Day 4

I changed the field beyond the house to a body of water. I also added light and shadow along the road. I envisioned the sun setting, casting long shadows. I added the shoreline along the far side to make the water look believable.

However, after looking at this painting for a while I decided I was not pleased with the lighting along the sides. Using my computer, I played around with various lighting changes. I wanted to get the setting sun reflected in the foreground hills to the left and right. Here is my final concept with a 'before (day 4 painting) / after (day 4 digital edits)' image.


Painting tutorial for 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 5

Day 5

The 'after' changes from day 4 are incorporated into the painting and can be seen in this final picture.

FINISHED PAINTING

Finished oil painting: 'Big Cork Tree' by John O'Keefe Jr.
Finished oil painting:
'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting: 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting with frame: 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting with frame on display: 'Peaceful Connecticut Valley in Autumn' by John O'Keefe Jr.
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John O'Keefe Jr.
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About the Author...
     John specializes in landscape oil painting done in a style similar to the famous Hudson River School and Victorian era artists. He also specializes in reproduction painting frames, framing supplies and Giclee prints of his landscape paintings.
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