(My "On the Easel" posts give you a behind-the-scenes look at what I am working on, what went well, what went wrong, and things I learn.)
Below is the first finished painting from my new studio, American Mountains. I've been struggling for inspiration lately, so I reached out to my brother for help. A few years ago, he spent about six months hiking through the American landscape. He took some wonderful photos and has allowed me to paint them (thanks Tim!).
Reference Photo and Study
Here's the photo I painted from:
I also painted the following color study in preparation:
A word of warning: Don't be a fool like me and position your study precariously next to a palette full of wet paint. It's an accident waiting to happen (see below).
- Oil on Ambersand gessoboard. 24 x 18 inches.
- Main colors: Ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, viridian green, and titanium white.
Refer to my supply list for more details on what I use.
- I really pushed the blue of the distant mountains. It's much more saturated than the reference photo, but I think it works.
- A key feature of this scene is that light hitting the grass around the middle of the painting, then tapering off. It was tricky to get this color right—to make it stand out without being garish. I scraped the area down a number of times. Thick paint didn't work. I settled on thin scumbles of rich color. Here's a close-up:
- I was careful to stop before overworking it. This is one of the hardest aspects of painting. At what point is the painting finished? For me, it's usually that point when I don't think my next stroke will add any meaningful value.
Here's a look at the new studio, plus some progress shots of the painting:
Step 1: Rough sketch.
Step 2: Color block-in.
Step 3: Deepen the darks, refine the lights.
Step 4: Finishing touches and photograph (I still need to sign the painting).