Monday, October 24, 2011

more landscapes...bigger....better?

reference photo
in keeping with recent themes i have decided to redo a painting that i did several months to a year ago and a landscape with figures. as an added challenge i will paint it in a much larger format than i have in the past, namely, a full sheet of fabriano artistico rough 140# paper (22"X30"). no good reason other than i wanted to try it  and felt up to the task (perhaps a foolish decision...we'll see).

trempealeau overlook
the photo that i will use is this one from our kids after they had hiked about 2 miles uphill to the top of the bluffs just north of here in trempealeau, wi. they are viewing the distant minnesota bluffs on the west side of the mississippi from a vantage point of 500-600 feet above the river. in the previous rendition  (which was in about a half-sheet format) i didn't like the way that the water was painted as i seemed to be almost on the level with the kids. i wanted to see if i could get it to descend to its real level in this next iteration.

 i started this painting by drawing in the figures in the foreground on the paper previously mentioned and then the position of the river and more distant land masses. in keeping with my dictum of painting those things that i figure will give me the hardest time, i started with the sky and some of the distant bluffs. i wanted to get as much aerial perspective into this as possible so i tried to put the most distant bluff in while the sky ( a wash of mineral violet/cobalt blue/raw sienna) was still damp so that the edges would be somewhat blurred. i also made them blue to make then recede. the blue came out a little too "sweet" for my taste but i may be able to tame it a bit later with a light wash of raw sienna or umber. i will wait to do this to make the judgement when the painting is more finished.

first steps
next steps
so, the washes up until this point have all been painted using a 1" flat brush. i started with a wash of raw sienna to wet the paper and followed with a graded wash of cobalt blue wet-on-wet and finished with a graded wash of mineral violet just at the very top wet-on-wet. before this completely dried (cool and damp to the touch) i added the distant hillside/bluff with cobalt blue (which i should have grayed a bit with one of the earth colors, but didn't). just before this dried i did the same with the slightly nearer bluff, all with the same 1" brush. i started to experiment with both the value and color of the nearest left side bluff using ultramarine blue and quinacridone gold (same brush) but decided after about 5 minutes that i was getting ahead of myself and blended it in and went on to the figures. switching to a #10 round i painted the middle figure's hair with cobalt blue, burnt sienna and burnt umber. her shirt was started at the waist with a gray wash formed by cerulean blue, raw sienna, and carmine. by the time i reached her hair it had dried enough that i got just a little bleed which was what i was going for. flesh on her arms was painted with cadmium red light, raw sienna and a bit of cerulean. shorts ultramarine blue and raw umber. moving on to the right most figure, his hair was painted with burnt umber and quinacridone gold. although i did paint his face with the aforementioned flesh color too much of the hair bled into it and that will have to be remedied later. his shirt was a mixture of cobalt blue, raw sienna, and mineral violet and his shorts a light wash of raw umber and just a touch of cobalt blue. you can see that i tried to get some tie-ins with the surroundings right away  but they were too dark in value so i lifted them out for the most part. i think in the future i will just pull some pigment into the background with a damp brush and/or clear water to avoid this issue. the last stages that i painted today finished the figures in more or less the same fashion as the rest had been done. in addition i darkened the right most near bluff with a dense wash of ultramarine blue, quinacridone gold, hooker's green, and burnt sienna. it is way too dark but i will see how far it lightens as it dries and make a final judgement tomorrow. while i was at it i did put in some of the reflections in the far water and some of the brush down near the far shore with the same colors. the posts of the bench were the last thing i did today and they were painted with the #10 round and mixtures of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, mineral violet, and a bit of ivory black. i carried it down to the bottom edge of the painting for the cast shadow and scraped in some grass leaves when it was losing its sheen with a palette knife. more tomorrow. be well.

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