05 January 2016

Analyzing a Plein Air Sketch

In 2016 I will be doing more landscape painting and drawing.  I still love portraits and figures and there are more to come, but landscapes will take up more of my blog this year.

I tried some landscape master copies and plein air sketches to start learning the genre, but after doing a few (here, here, and here) I think I can make better progress with some instruction.  I've been wanting to try an online course anyway, so I enrolled in one taught by the Texas landscape artist, Deborah Paris.  The 4-week session focuses on values in the landscape.  A good starting subject for me.  I'll post on how it goes.
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Today I am posting a plein air sketch I did a few weeks ago.  Since this was a learning exercise, I brought the sketch back from the field and worked on it in the studio. I'm including a photo from the site too, so you can see how I simplified the scene.

Santa Ysabel Oak, 6x8", oil on linen
Photo of the site for "Santa Ysabel Oak"

I also did some graphite studies to ponder the composition. I was trying to find the essential visual elements in a fairly complex scene.  These exercises all come from Mitchell Albabla's book Landscape Painting.

The 4-value study below was useful for designing the large value planes in the composition: sky, ground, uprights and slanted planes (Carlson's Theory of Angles).  Keeping the values of those planes separated strengthens how the image reads.

The 2-value drawing limits the value structure even further, forcing all the shapes into the light or the dark.  A good way to assess the big visual impact and adjust shapes for better design.  From this study, I decided to push the foreground a little lighter and the background a little darker. 


The final exercise was a line drawing indicating the shapes and internal contours of the major masses.  It helped with modeling the rather complicated forms.  All 3 exercises helped simplify the scene down to the essentials.  I learned a lot.  I'm glad I did them.



While out in the field painting the sketch, I saw ground movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was a bronze tarantula passing by.  I think it was a male looking for a date.
 


9 comments:

  1. Very beautiful and interesting painting !!!
    Happy and Creative New Year !!!

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    1. Thank you, Art-Traveller. Appreciate your comments. Sometimes learning isn't pretty, but we have to make so-so paintings to eventually make the good ones. That's what I try to keep in mind as I'm doing these studies. I'm paying my dues :D Happy New Year to you, too.

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  2. wow--you've taken to the great outdoors! This is great and I can't wait to see what else you will do outside. Just like with painting people from life, nothing compares to the experience of painting outdoors. As William Merrit Chase said....."You must be right under the sky". Beautiful work! Bravo!

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    1. Love that quote, Celeste. Your comments are always welcome. We need to hook up and paint together "right under the sky" one of these days :D...once I get up to speed, of course. Happy New Year.

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  3. p.s. the tarantula is cool!!

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    1. Getting some boots before I go out again, but, yeah, it was a cool spider.

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  4. Hi Candace, I keep wondering how your studies are going. Over on Craftsy, they have a class with Edward Minoff that is very enjoyable. Made me want to take a workshop with him if ever possible. Hope you 2016 has been good to you.

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    1. Hi, Karen. I'm still here. Getting a post ready on the class I just finished with Deborah Paris on values in the landscape. I'm learning a huge amount, but it is pretty much consuming all my studio time. Worth it though.

      Are you taking the Ed Minoff class? He's a very capable artist, love his waves. Would love to hear more about that. Looks like I'm going to be taking these classes with Deborah at least through June. Very intensive, but great training.

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    2. Yes, I took the class on Craftsy. I highly recommend it. Looking forward to your next posts. :)

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