Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shawnee Valley demonstration, Step 8

Painting the Middle Ground


Working from back to front, I started with the trees backing up to the mountains. I then painted the flat plane of the land, alternating grassy colors with pinkish-tan areas of dirt indicating paths and bare areas. Then I worked some of the middle ground trees attempting to make them individuals and not out of a tree cookie-cutter. I have indicated some grassy areas on the left, but may have to mass that more and save the texture for the foreground.

I will finish the middle ground in the next step, which will include the stream and the large tree on the right.

Having just returned from two painting trips: one to western Pennsylvania where this scene is and the other to Sky Meadows State Park in Virginia, I have been keenly aware of the variations in trees, and there are thousands. I wish I could have stopped along the road and painted each and every one to keep as reference material.

It is time to arrive at a new title for this painting, the original being "Shawnee Valley." I would appreciate any input you have for titling this new painting. I would prefer not to use the word "Shawnee," but it can be valley something, or something valley. I will consider all your suggestions. Please don't be shy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shawnee Valley demonstration, Step 7

Painting the Middle Mountains


These middle mountains need transition colors between the foreground and the background colors. Again, it is difficult to paint the warm color of the sunlight on September trees with the cool overtones representing the atmosphere. We landscape painters must paint the air as well as the light: the affect of the atmosphere and light on each and every surface. The more distant the surface, like the distant mountains, the more air there is to paint.

I lightened the darks on the right-hand mountain a bit and then warmed up the small area between the two middle mountains. You can see how these transition colors were necessary.

In the sunlit greens on the right-hand mountain, I have added tinges of pink to suggest autumnal colors. I painted the original plein air piece in September when the colors were just beginning to change. At that time, there were more gold-greens than oranges and rust colors.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shawnee Valley demonstration, Step 6

Painting the Sky and Background


As I continue with this painting, I am still drawing and tweaking the shapes to make sure that they are not only correct but also pleasing. My paintings are NOT like paint-by-number paintings where the color is filled in on a finished drawing. My paintings are always a work in progress, developing the shapes, colors, and values as I go along. I use a mirror to check my work and I squint at it a lot.

After making some drawing changes, I painted the foliage on the tall left-hand tree since it overlaps the sky, having refined the shapes from the initial block-in. The top branch points into the painting, leading the viewer’s eye in that direction.

I refined the cloud shapes and eliminated the slightly gray cloud at the top of the painting. Since I want the two top corners of this painting different, I now have blue sky in the upper left corner a cloud in the upper right corner. The cloud serves as an exit path from the painting, an effective compositional device.

The mountains and hills in the distance are the hardest to paint, since the atmosphere affects the colors to such a large degree. To get just the right degree of warmth and coolness, I adjust and adjust and adjust some more until it looks right to me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Shawnee Valley demonstration, Step 5

The Foreground Color Block-In


Now that this complete color block-in is finished, I have a better idea where I am going with this painting. In this stage, I am still arranging shapes and values to make sure this all works together before I finish any one particular area.

The rocks are a slightly cool color, made with a variety of grays. The ground is warm, made with lots of orange, yellow ochre and warm greens. I have suggested the cows, but will refine them later. That will be one of the last areas I finish. I may have to do additional photography in nearby cow pastures to get accurate source material.

Between the completion of this step and the final painting, I will make even more changes in shapes, design, values, and color.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Shawnee Valley demonstration, Step 4

The Middle Ground Color Block-In


Beginning with the large middle mountain, I put in the shadows with a purple green-gray. I added yellow ochre and white for the lighter areas, being very careful not to get this area too warm. White is a cool color, and I premix a puddle of white tinged with yellow for just this kind of use. Since there is so much blue-gray in the atmosphere, all colors are affected by it.

As I came toward the foreground, I added more yellow ochre and yellow, and reduced the amounts of gray. The warm reddish field on the left-hand hill is cadmium red light with thalo blue and white. The very light grassless areas in the middle ground are orange and white, grayed with a bit of ultramarine blue. At the edge of the river, I changed the water edge to a small bank made with cadmium red light, thalo blue and white. The darks in the grass, the cast shadows, and the shady sides of the trees are various shades of green darkened with blue-violet.

The trunk of the tall left-hand skinnty tree needs more variety. The top is interesting, but the rest of it is too straight.