COMPOSITION AND MATERIALS
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
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
I began this painting with the most distant objects... the sky and clouds. These were aggressive clouds that were very busy.
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.
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.
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.
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.