Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Douglas Family Preserve

It's been a while since I've done one of these so I'm going to post this one with work in progress shots. These are always fun to do because I like seeing a painting progress to it's finish. I painted this scene today starting this morning and finishing later this evening. This one is from the Wilcox property, or the Douglas Family Preserve if you want to go by the new name of the area.
 1 ) Above shows the block in...laying in the base colors of each specific area of the scene. When I block in I tend to start with the sky and background, then move forward from there. I spend a little more time with the background trying to actually finish it up before moving forward so the trees back there are pretty much about what they will look like when the painting is finished. Later I will do some small tweaking of the background to tie it in with the foreground more but not much.
2 ) My foreground shadow colors are in and later I will add the highlights there to give that large shady area some dappled light coming through the trees overhead from the left and slightly behind the scene here. The tree darks are put in as thin as I can get them before they lose too much color....you don't want them transparent. I use copal painting medium to thin it and that also helps it to tack up a bit before the mid and highlight colors are painted over it. What I don't want is for that area to dry because I don't like painting on dry paint. I like it tacky so I can blend into it where I want it.
 3 ) Once all of the colors are in I start working the trees. In this painting that was the longest process. On large canvases it is easy to get a little depressed because it is all done by eye...just working the trees till they look right. The larger the painting the slower that all goes and it seems like they will never get done. Eventually they start to happen and the mood changes drastically, haha. I imagine working with glazes can give an artist the same feelings...."when is this going to start working???" I take breaks doing the trees because each time you come back to the painting you see areas that need adjusting. Getting the colors right on the trees will really help add the right light to the scene too so it is a lot of mixing to get the right greens. After the trees were finished the next step was to add the highlights in the foreground shadows and then go back and tweak, tweak, tweak the entire painting to pull it all together....you know, the fun part!
4 ) ......and all finished! In painting these scenes of the DFP I have found my "way" of painting in the foreground shadows. I don't worry too much about painting them in exactly the way they will look at the finish. I mix up a dark violet and paint it in...it was either going to be more blue or more red depending on what I wanted....I like more blue but the actual color was more red because of the dirt here....it was a very reddish dirt. Later I add my highlight colors, sort of a dirty pink, I go over some areas of the shadow with either that color or a mix of light blue which lightens parts of the shadows....you can see it in the lighter areas of the shadows. This lighter area gives the illusion of shadowed pink dirt. This is done mainly in the foreground area of the shadow and would be areas in shadow that are getting more reflected or diffused sunlight. In reading articles about painting shadows they tend to have you put your strongest darks of the shadows in the foreground area. I imagine that is an art rule and generally it is probably the way to go. Here in this scene the shadows were varied depending on how much light was being blocked out by thick or thin tree foliage. The other reason I painted the shadow this way was to vary the large dark mass of shadows....instead of a large flat dark area I have "holes" of sunlight streaking across the shadows in random shapes and the values of the rest of the shadows are varied. This keeps it interesting for the viewer, elliminates a boring large flat area of the painting and makes it fun for the artist to play with values. Hope you like it.    


Jim Serrett said...

It is always interesting to see stages of a paintings development; it offers so much insight into the artist thinking and process. There is that point in a work that all of us call the ugly stage, where things are not exactly working, usually at that step where we are attempting to resolve them in our own artistic eye. It is a lot to digest. That jump to the next stage is probably the most important; I believe it is the stage that separates good work from great work.
Oh, great work.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Jim,

I agree about the stages paintings, and the artist, both go through. I think many paintings never make it past that ugly stage in the early days of painting for the lack of being able to pull it together. Time and pushing yourself eventually lead to good, and then, better finishes. It is so easy to get discouraged in the early stages and I had my share of those paintings, haha.
Thanks for the comments Jim, much appreciated!

Mick Carney said...

Brilliant post. I'll return to this one time after time just to get my head right when I want to paint. Wonderful instruction. Thanks Ron. Painting is great too.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Mick,

Glad you like it. The painting was fun and didn't take very long and luckily I remembered to take progress shots this time. I seem to start paintings with this in mind but after taking the first shot I totally forget to take any others until most of the painting is finished, hahaha. Getting into the painting way too much sometimes.
Thanks Mick!