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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. The clouds in this scene are from a photograph that my wife took and a picture from the wetcanvas.com reference library 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 better oil paints vs. student grade paints. I limited myself to a six-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 five days - about 5 hours a day, including prep and clean up 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 and 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

The clouds needed refinement, so I kept working with a blending brush until they flowed smoothly and had improved in the 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 dark feel from day 2. It now looks like a bright sunny day. I also added the ground and the beginning of the tree line. I intended to have a powerful 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. I added more green to some, and I added brown and red to the others. 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 it's incredible 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 reference photo, I noticed 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 lose depth and appear flat. For example: Instead of using darker green for shadows under the trees I saw a more realistic painting emerged 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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