14 September 2016

Painting Clouds

I’m thinking alot about clouds at the moment.  What colors they are, how their edges form, how to paint them.  I just finished Deborah Paris’ online course “The Painted Sky”.  There is a lot to understand about the sky, and I look up now with a little more understanding.

Here is a painting I did during the course.  Part invention and part plein air sketch.  I used a 3-step process starting with a thumbnail, then a value study, then finally the painting, done wet-in-wet.  I like the process, it feels logical to me.  First handle composition and values, then get down to color.

Grasslands, 9x12", oil on linen

Here are the thumbnail and value study for Grasslands.

Thumbnail, 2x3", graphite on 90lb sketch paper

Value study, 4x5.25", chalk and charcoal on toned Strathmore 500

I did 5 thumbnails before choosing that one to work up.  It takes less than 30 minutes to generate a thumbnail and, for that small effort, you get to glimpse a finished painting.  Here are the other thumbs I did for the assignment. I will probably turn one of the nocturnes into a painting, too.


The best reference I know on clouds is chapter 10 of Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting.  If you are interested in this subject, that's a good place to start.

22 July 2016

Landscape Painting with a Strong Start

I just finished an online course with Deborah Paris called The Strong Start.  The course was an introduction to landscape painting from life and from memory.  No photography allowed, which encouraged deeper observation, and more reliance on memory, which I like.

I came away with a clear step-by-step process for creating landscape paintings  Before this class, I would go into the field, set up my easel, and hope for the best. Using this procedure, I have a better chance of actually producing something decent.  And I generated alot of sketchbook ideas for later use, too.

The process starts with finding ideas in the field.  No photos or drawing at this point, just spending time looking around and connecting. Next, some of the stronger ideas are converted into plein air graphite thumbnails.  This is the stage where objects and values are invented or moved around to support the composition.  Next, with the thumbnail for guidance, the scene is painted en plein air.  This oil sketch and memory are used to create the final studio piece.

Below are a few plein air sketches from the class, along with the original thumbnails.  Not masterworks, but better than my earlier attempt (here).
Ramona Grasslands II, 9x12", oil on linen

I was skipping the thumbnail step before this class.  Big mistake.  It's so much easier to work through the value structure and colors separately, so the graphite thumb step makes sense for me.  I did about 6 thumbnails before settling on one to take to the next level.  The more thumbs generated, the better. The first few ideas are ususally obvious and less interesting.

Ramona Grasslands thumbnail, 2.5x3.5", graphite

Here's one more effort.  First, the oil sketch...

Ramona Grasslands III, 9x12", oil on linen

And the original thumbnail...

With this procedure in place, I'm more optimistic when I go out in the field.  And I expect the process will enhance my portrait work, too.  All good.

09 May 2016

More Landscape Drawings

Today I'm posting a few drawings I did in the online course I just finished...Drawing the Landscape. I took the class to learn how to draw in the field, as a first step to landscape painting.  If you cannot draw it, you probably cannot paint it.  The field drawings are a great tool for composing and learning to see.  

So here they are, drawings I did in the field to understand some aspect of tree structure and to get a level of comfort going out there and just sitting and observing.  It's a different way of doing things if you're used to sitting in your studio looking at an image on a computer screen.  But I like it.  It feels authentic and connected to be out there.  I think photos have a role to play, too, but I'm still working out what that is.  

Okay, that is all.

Cuyamaca Pines, 10x14", charcoal on sketch paper

Burnt Sugar Bush, Anza Borrego, 8x9", graphite on paper

Greenbelt Pine, 8x10", graphite on bristol board