October 18, 2021 at 2:03 pm #1847350
I will practice landscape drawing/painting a day, with a focus on fundamentals (value, colour, composition, line, edges, etc). Extra points for en plein air sketches; and allowances for occasional days of non-landscape subject matter.
Day 1 (17/10/2021)
- 2 hour sketch with a specific focus on composition, getting the value of the big masses right, colour harmony, and the end-of-day light effect. First time painting on a canvas pad.
October 19, 2021 at 4:10 am #1850256
- (~1hr) Completed an A3 sheet of graphite/charcoal tree studies – a significant weakness!
- Also finished watching Fenske’s forest demo -> https://www.nma.art/videolessons/introduction-to-landscape-painting-part-15-forest/?course=318059
Day 2 (18/10/21)
October 20, 2021 at 1:46 am #1854076
- Read the first two chapters of Landscape Painting Inside and Out by Kevin Macpherson. Looks promising.
- Also read a chapter of The Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole. The chapter was on the line of boughs and branches. The book is undoubtedly full of useful information, but it’s really dense and the language outdated. It’s hard to pick out practical changes.
- I warmed-up with a postcard size view from my front window, focusing mostly on capturing the grey-greens of a rainy day. (~10mins)
- Completed 4 x 30-45 minute tree studies. My primary focus was on form and capturing a likeness of the trees. I wasn’t as disciplined on colour, but tried to match the values and think about edges. I obviously went too dark, as is often the case when using photos as references – I need to keep some room for paintings to go darker. I also think I could tinker with the hues amongst the foliage.
Day 3 (19/10/21)
- I have a figure drawing class at a local college on Tuesday evenings. I signed up largely for access to a model, but I’m not sure how much I’m benefiting as the direction of the sessions is often quite narrow and the model, due to Covid restrictions, is fully-clothed. This week, we were restricted to using biro pens and only permitted to draw in line. It felt more like doodling. ~2hrs
- I also read a chapter in The Artistic Anatomy of Trees on tone/values. A key point was to see trees as a single dome-like mass, with values changing as the planes turn away from the light source – but also allowing for gaps in the mass and the transparent effect of bright light filtering through leaves.
- I wanted to practice something landscape-related, so before bed I worked on a quick 30-minute sketch of a tree trunk from NMA’s reference photos. Unfinished. I just wanted to get the basic shape and tonal pattern down, emphasising the gnarly and twisted form. I have intended to do similar studies from life, as rendering texture is a big weakness of mine. Very enjoyable way to spend half an hour!
Total practice time (2.5hrs)October 21, 2021 at 3:38 am #1855198
Day 4 (20/10/21)
- I read a section of Landscape Inside and Out about ‘Shape Relationships’. There was an exercise about cutting a scene into large mosaic pieces, with the idea of beginning a painting from its big compositional shapes. Marco Bucci has a great video about shapes too. The book is fantastic, I’m taking it a few pages a day to try and absorb as much as possible – but I suspect it’ll take a few rereads.
- So for today’s exercise, I took a reference photo and created a simplified ‘mosaic’ of its main shapes, values, and hues as a starting point for a 2 hour sketch.
I really enjoyed this sketch – not least because it was the first time I felt I was trying to capture the mood/feeling of when I took the photo. For a bit of fun I tried to sneak in similarly valued colours into some of the shapes, trying to be conscious about the temperature/intensity relationships – the cool pines on the right, compared to the warm tree as the focal point – the saturated greens of the foreground shrub compared to the desaturated hedges, etc.October 21, 2021 at 7:19 am #1855381JuliaParticipant
I just watched very interesting video on painting a tree https://youtu.be/yLYjZVqlw1o it’s in Russian but he paints it step by step. I am going to try it with his bold approach…October 21, 2021 at 11:07 pm #1856104
Thank you for the recommendation Julia! I had a quick look at the video, but will need to watch through it properly.
He achieves beautiful abstraction without compromising accuracy of the form. I really enjoy the chiselled, square brush marks – it gives the depiction real strength, and boldness as you say. He also gets a lot more variation in the mass in terms of hues and saturation. It really comes together at the end, I wish I could understand his explanations.
If you come across any other similar videos in your learning, please do share 🙂October 22, 2021 at 4:36 am #1856234
Day 4 (21/10/21)
Not much time for learning art today as I have Welsh lessons in the evening.
- Read a few pages in Landscape Painting Inside & Out on value relationships and the relativity of colour.
- Emphasised the importance of value studies, and among other things, ‘what range of values depict the atmosphere the best and sets the mood you want to convey’. For me, I’m always trying to simply match values to what I see (from photo or life), but as Macpherson repeats, painters don’t have all the variety of nature – there’s an element of simplification, abstraction, and design. Choices, in other words.
- Another key point I need to remember, is to keep changes of hue/saturation/temperature within the light/shadow family of the shape. Don’t refine shapes with value changes.
- Value and colour contrasts attract attention.
- Key a painting to its purest colour, other colours shouldn’t compete.
- As for practice, I made a quick shape plan using a reference photo of mine:
- Then I did a 2 hour sketch, which I abandoned after a lot of scraping away and repainting. I was never really happy with any part of it.
- It’s the second time I’ve attempted to paint a tree canopy that is 50/50 sky, and it’s very tricky to depict the reflective, transparent, swaying texture. I wasn’t sure how many sky holes to put in, whether to use light/yellower greens to suggest transparent leaves, how to portray both a firm structure and its loose parts, etc.
- The composition is a bit boring, I hoped it’d be similar to what Payne described as an L composition; the colours got a bit muddy with all the re-work.
- I’d abandoned the effort before really dealing with the background.
- Learnings: perhaps be more specific in the design stage about the shapes and really scrutinise the composition. Just keep practising what’s challenging!
- Positives: I have enjoyed sneaking some saturated greens into the grass, a hint of Timkov.
Practice Time: ~2hrsOctober 22, 2021 at 5:40 am #1856311JuliaParticipant
Some tips from his explanations:
October 23, 2021 at 9:02 am #1858213
- do not use any whites in shadows (and on the first stage as little as possible everywhere else except sky area)
- use open colors in the beginning (thin layers), you can muddy it up at later stage
- Do not use green colors in the beginning (they will appear later when you mix more colors in your first layer of open colors)
- cadmium red light color is very useful in painting greens
- very light sky (and bright blue) attracts too much attention in the painting , it’s often better to make it a little darker in value and not very saturated if your focal point is something else then sky
- the value is most important, those bold colors have to have right value (to see values in different chroma colors often more difficult then in shades and tints)
- The shadows the top part of the tree is cooler, the bottom shadow will have warm reflective light from the ground. You can see how he uses blues on the top shadow and brown/red on the bottom shadow of the tree in first layer
- do not paint any details in the beginning but rather find interesting shapes of light and shadows
- the darkest areas of the tree is not on the edges (or you will have a flat object) but on the ares between light and shadow (terminator).
- pay careful attention to the sky holes on the tree, generally they will have a bit lower value then near sky. Also the top of the sky holes will touch shadows of the tree (usually, not always).
- In this daytime scene the far plane is cooler (and often lighter) then front plane. The grass on the front is lighter then a tree and darker then sky.
- the shadow of the tree is warm by the trunk and getting progressively cooler away from the trunk
- start painting tree trunk with shadows and don’t use any white, use bright colors in light areas. When painting brunches, paint light on dark ares and darks in light areas.
Hope is was helpful.
Wow, that’s brilliant – thank you Julia! I watched the video in its entirety and your notes were very helpful (and the auto-translated subtitles, much less so).
There’s a lot of interesting ideas there and a few things I’m definitely guilty of (like painting sky with too much saturation) and a few I’m eager to try (like using white as little as possible when blocking in).
Thanks again.October 23, 2021 at 9:14 am #1858252
Day 5 (22/10/21)
- Finished the chapter in Landscape Inside and Out on the relativity of colours, values, and edges.
- Find the extremes: Ask yourself – what shape is largest/smallest? colour most intense/neutral? value lightest/darkest? edges sharpest/softest?
- Design the relationships around the central idea of your painting.
- Try: adding warm/cool colours into the same shapes or light/shadow families.
- Try: distinguishing the focal point with high contrasts (value, colour, edges).
- I didn’t get much time to paint today, so I tried a three 30 minute tree studies. I went into these without much intention and, as a result I think, none felt particularly successful. All the foliage is the same, for instance, despite being three totally different trees! Phoning it in a bit.
- I think I’m going to mix it up tomorrow just to add a bit of variation into my practice.
Practice Time: 1.5 hrsOctober 24, 2021 at 5:33 am #1862042
Day 6 (23/10/21)
- I read chapter 4 of Landscape Inside and Out on the planning and painting process.
- Idea: what is your reason for wanting to paint the scene? That’s the idea/the focal point around which to design and edit a scene.
- Unity: no colour, shape, position, or value has meaning without the others – the dominant idea always prevails
- Harmony is achieved when there is both variety and repetition of value, colour, and shape. There must be both conflict/tension/contrast and resolution.
- Planning process might include:
- drafting a thumbnail of a scene in just black/white (notan?)
- value plans
- colour plans – simple big shapes of the scene that can become the lay-in of a larger piece
- I wanted to do something a bit different today, so inspired by Kyffin Williams, I tried to complete a sketch using palette knife alone (for the first time too). It was fairly challenging as the sketch is quite small and I only have one reasonably-large palette knife! My other focus was on using a lot of greys to depict a characteristically overcast wet day of a nearby hill. Really enjoyable 1-2 hours.
- After that, I stuck the fire on and set up a small still life in the living room. It’s the first time I’ve tried painting a still life and I’m really pleased how it turned out. I don’t really know why I like it so much, but I think it might be the best thing I’ve painted yet. I enjoyed trying to get the red and green hues to sit together, with warm and cool temperatures of each, into the same form. The pear took very little time at all, but I spent a long while on the folds of the cloth – constantly darkening and knocking it back, trying to strike a balance between depicting form without it distracting from the pear. Drapery is tough work. It isn’t perfect, but a good effort for a first try. (3hrs)
Practice Time: ~5hrsOctober 25, 2021 at 2:18 am #1864132
Day 7 (24/10/21)
- One week of the challenge completed, nice!
- I read part of chapter 5 ‘painting outside’ of Landscape In and Out. I expect I’ll re-read the chapter as it’s full of great ideas, including a 10 day challenge of different ways to approach outdoor painting and different methods to approach the painting process.
- Try sprints. Paint the same subject, on the same size canvas, three times. First in an hour, then in 30 minutes, then in 15. The lesson is to learn to paint quickly.
- Try 10 day challenge (pg 68)
- In terms of practice, I completed a 2.5 hr charcoal drawing of a tree that I sketched earlier in the week. The challenge was drawing big, on an A3 sheet; practising the rendering of the bark; and, capturing the subtle changes in dappled light effects. I treated the subject very similar to figure drawing, which was good fun.
Practice Time: 2.5hrsOctober 26, 2021 at 7:56 am #1869538
Day 8 (25/10/21)
I didn’t get much time for drawing/painting today.
- I watched the first week of Huston’s Creative Composition.
- I went through my old photos looking for landscape references, composing thumbnail sketches and value plans for a few of them. Then I spent a bit of time on some colour studies, nothing too fancy (harder than I thought it’d be too).
Practice Time: 1.5hrsOctober 27, 2021 at 6:01 am #1873271
Day 9 (26/10/21)
- I whipped together a small landscape sketch that I was never really happy with. The reference photo contained traces of the side-lit effect on a stormy day that I exaggerated. I think this fiction shows. I struggled to get any variation into the background hills without it dominating, and I changed the hill shadow numerous times – warm/cool, lighter/darker. It’s something I should have figured out in a value sketch.
- There are parts of the composition I really like, notably where the road ends with a dash of light set against the dark trees behind – it serves to suck you into the painting.
October 28, 2021 at 7:58 am #1876074
- There’s no life drawing class this week as it’s half-term break, so I completed a few 30-minute poses instead. Man do I need to practice figure drawing more often. They were good fun, but challenging to get the proportions right. I’m thinking of starting the Russian Academy course to get more drawing time in, hmmm. I quite like the middle one, it’s like she’s dancing.
Day 10 (27/10/21)
- I finished the chapter on ‘painting outside’ in Landscape Painting Inside and Out. The chapter mentions a few ‘methods’ for starting a painting:
- Draw out the scene in pencil/charcoal first
- Paint expressively with colour first, then focus on drawing
- Paint the focal point first
- Try to be as accurate to what you see as possible
- Start with a sketch, then work on a much larger painting started in the studio.
- I worked on two reasonably large figure drawings (~45 mins) – they were ultimately more time consuming than I intended, but I found the poses tricky and got a bit distracted with the podcasts I was listening to. I think I am going to work on the Russian Drawing Course, my drawing needs a lot of work.
- In terms of landscape, I whipped together another postcard-sized sketch based on a reference image in open critique. I wanted to see if my own advice was useful. Result, not so sure!
- I also worked on a few thumbnails of coastal and mountain scenes with tricky lighting conditions.
Practice Time: 3hrs
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