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.