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Step by Step Oil Painting Tutorial
'the Field's Edge'
by John O'Keefe Jr.

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COMPOSITION AND MATERIALS

Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - reference material - cloud photograph by Jennifer O'Keefe
Cloud Photo by Jennifer O'Keefe

I'm a big fan of the "Hudson River School" painters, because of this I have been trying to develop similar skills in landscape painting. This painting was based on a cloud scene that my wife took and a picture from the wetcanvas.com reference library that was used for the field and trees. I felt this was a good composition for me to work with.

I switched from Winsor & Newton 'Winton' to Winsor & Newton 'Artist Oil Color' ...Big difference in colors, mixing and the way the paint goes onto the canvas. I found that I like the better oil paints vs the student grade paints. I limited myself to a 6 color pallet (see below) and I used NO mediums, the paint was straight out of the tubes. The green of choice was "sap green" mixed with "titanium white" or "ivory black", added to this was a little "Raw Umber" or "Raw sienna" to add some earthy tones. At times I added the sap green straight onto the canvas in the grass running across the middle of the painting. Of course it had blended a little as I was painting wet on wet. I put about 25 hours into this painting spread over 5 days - about 5 hours a day, including prep and cleanup each day. Also worth mentioning is that I painted sitting under a 60 watt light bulb with not much natural outside light shining on the canvas as I worked.

  • Support: Pre-Stretched & Mounted Medium Textured Cotton Canvas (Acrylic Primed)
  • Size: 12 x 16 inch
  • Medium: Winsor & Newton 'Artist Oils' Professional Grade Oil Paints
    (Sky/Clouds: Titanium White, Ivory Black, and Ultramarine Blue)
    (Landscape: Titanium White, Ivory Black, Sap Green, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, and Napals Yellow)
  • Finish: Winsor & Newton Dammar varnish

STEP-BY-STEP OIL PAINTING

Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 1

Day 1

I began this painting with the most distant objects... the sky & clouds. These were aggressive clouds that were very busy.


Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 2

Day 2

More refinements made to the the clouds. I kept working the clouds with a blending brush until they flowed more smoothly and had improved in contrast between light and dark areas. However, at this point things looked a little stormy.


Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 3

Day 3

Notice the final white highlights added to the clouds which take away the stormy feel from day 2. It now looks like a bright sunny day. I also added the ground and the beginning of the tree line. My intent was to have a very strong contrast between light and dark. Notice the effect it has when you compare the ground objects against the sky.


Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 4

Day 4

The big tree is complete and now its time to work on the tree line to the right. To make the multiple trees stand apart from each other I modified the colors of each tree slightly. Some are more green while others have added browns and red tones. The overall effect is to give a sense of many trees growing together. Adding the right amount of dark to areas proved to be more difficult than I had first thought - I continued to make adjustments by increasing darker areas such as under the trees.


Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 5

Day 5

It was a perfect sunny day. The clouds where very puffy and the darker patches are nothing more than deep shadows - There was not a drop of rain in the sky that day. I have been working on achieving the right/accurate balance between light and dark areas in my landscape paintings and its amazing how much of both are present even on a very sunny day. When I would sit at the end of the day and review my painting against the ref photo, I was always brought back to how much lighter my painting seemed - I had not put enough contrast between light and dark objects. As I continued to retouch those lighter areas by adding more shadows, the painting became more realistic. I have seen many paintings that do not have enough contrast between objects and these paintings always seem to be missing something to me... they seem to loose depth and appear flat. For example: Instead of using darker green for shadows under the trees I saw a more realistic painting emerge when I painted straight black into those areas. I'm learning not to be so afraid of using darks.

STEP BY STEP ANIMATION

Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 5 Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 4 Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 3 Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 2 Painting tutorial for 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr. - Day 1

FINISHED PAINTING

Finished oil painting:<br />'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr.
Finished oil painting:
'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting: 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting - Detail 1: 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting with frame: 'The Field's Edge' by John O'Keefe Jr.
  • Finished oil painting with frame on display: 'The Field's Edge' by 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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