- Lesson details
This scene of plains and distant mountains was chosen for its strong front-lit effect it’s clear example of how greens change as they go back into space. It’s springtime here and boy is it exciting to see greens emerging from the grey, violet colors of winter.
Landscape painting in a studio compared to painting on-location are completely different experiences, each with their own set of challenges to face. Painting landscapes on-location means you’re faced with constantly changing natural lighting, as well as nature, but the experience itself can really make your inspiration flow.
In this painting course, Artist Ben Fenske teaches you the fundamentals of landscape painting through a series of lessons. These lessons include easy to follow instruction, analysis of famous landscape paintings, and demonstrations shot on-location, to help you better your painting skills.
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I don't know if it's going to be - if the fog is going to come back
or the clouds. So I pulled up a small paddle and I'm going to try to
do a 1-hour sketch. And the scene here is a perfect example of atmospheric perspective, the
greens falling off into a blue violet. Also got very clear upright shadows and upright lights,
and we've got flat planes and slanted planes
and maybe hopefully a cloud shadow or two.
So this is a very simple scene but it's hard to paint because we’ve
got flat light, meaning that the light will be to my back or at
my back when I'm looking at the scene.
So I'm going to try to pay attention to the fall off of color and
also the planes.
really not important. I'm just - it's something that will be covered up later.
Okay, so I've got the main lines of the composition in.
And depending on how much experience you have,
you might have to spend more time on this stage.
I'm trying to do it very quickly right now.
So I'm not dealing with a lot of detail.
I just want to kind of place
the composition on the canvas. So I'm just, I'm looking at big angles.
I've got all my elements fit onto the canvas.
And that's kind of enough for me to just go for it at this point.
So I'm going to have to really really think carefully about each
color that I lay on because there's not a lot of shadow in this
scene, and there's not a lot of contrast either.
There's not a lot of color contrast or value contrast.
So I’m gonna have to really think carefully about each color that I lay down and
try to lay it down very cleanly.
Another thing is that the sun is kind of going or the clouds are kind of
coming in and out so I’m gonna have to think about that as I
paint. So I want a sunlight effect.
So I don't want to look at the scene too much when the clouds are
over because then I'll be painting a cloudy day effect.
I really want to a sunny day effect so I want to make all my observations when the sun
is out. So I think I'm going to start by laying in the upright planes that
are in light. And then just work around the canvas as I go. So I’ve got
basically two upright planes. Big tree here, one or two trees here.
The slanted plane of the mountain, slanted plane of the small hill, and the flat plane.
I hope the sun comes back.
I'm kind of waiting for that.
And I might - because the sun is coming in and out,
I might take the opportunity now that the sun is out,
I might just quickly mix up a few piles of paint, something for the sky, something
for the mountain, so that I have something when the clouds do go over.
So right now there is a bit of a half light.
It's not full sun. It's not full clouds.
It's kind of a difficult thing to paint.
I still want to paint a sunlight effect so I'm kind of - I’m putting
some spots all over the canvas.
And when I see that full light
again then I'll really go for the final color.
But right now I'm sort of guessing. Here it comes a bit more.
So at the edge of this flat plane,
there's a slanted plane. And logically,
this should be - the slanted plane should be slightly darker than the flat plane. So
I want to make sure I get that in there.
Okay, right now I'm starting to paint in a middle ground tree.
And it looks like it's the same type of tree as this one.
So I've got to think about the atmosphere in between this tree and that tree and
what it's going to do to the color.
And so it should, this color should be a little bit duller or less
yellowy orange than the foreground tree. The middle ground tree should have less detail or
variety within it. And if you can see on the palette, it’s very subtle differences.
So here's - this is the first pile for the foreground tree,
this is the pile for the middle ground tree.
They’re subtly different. There’s another middle ground tree.
and then dead grass and dead brush.
So I'm going to have to probably two brushes and two colors for each plane.
So I'll have one brush
that’ll be sort of a
purpley gray for the dead stuff and I'll have my green brush for the fresh grass.
So having those, both of those things, going will
give kind of a color vibration.
So this gray color, this warm gray in the middle ground,
that same sort of dead grass feeling when it comes forward is going to go orange.
When it goes back, it's going to become even more violety purple.
So from this color, I'll step that back into more of a blue violety purple and
step it forward as more of an orange.
So I've got always bluer and lighter go into the background.
Keeping in mind, of course the plane, so the slanted plane of the mountain will
logically be slightly darker than any flat plane.
One thing to note here is that the ground or the tone of the
panel right now is it's the right value that I need for the foreground.
So it's not so important to cover everything up because it's already the right value and it
actually - sometimes it looks nice when there are bits showing through, bits of panel showing
through, it cheapest as sort of color vibration.
Same thing with the sky.
I might not have to cover every bit of a panel there.
Okay, here's a little top plane in the middle distance.
Here’s another slanted plane. The field in the background. And so I'm thinking here's a slanted
plane, here's another one about a mile away.
Lots of atmosphere in between them. So this one's got to have less yellow in it
and might be slightly lighter.
So I need to get a difference between this color and this one.
Okay now I'm just trying to work some of the greens
into the distant mountain. At least for the first part of the mountain
I want to have greens and purples.
When I get up to the top I want to probably have it one uniform color
just to show the distance.
So you always want to less variety
as you go back I guess.
I'm also thinking a little bit about the form.
So the sun is coming a little bit -
it's coming from behind but a little bit from my right so there's a little
bit more sunlight hitting this part of the hill than there
is this part of the hill.
So I'm thinking this will be a little bit lighter than that.
I'm just trying to Imagine the form a little bit so when I put the strokes,
the paint strokes, on I'm doing it with thought behind it.
And I haven't put any shadows in there yet and there's a few right around the
edge. I should probably get those in because in a few minutes they might be gone.
So I'm just looking at the spot that I put down.
I don't necessarily want to go as dark as I can.
And I think this is a little bit too dark.
I'm just looking at the amount of contrast
between the light and the shadow.
I'm just trying to judge that contrast.
What does it feel like?
Right now it feels like just a tiny bit too much.
If you can see the palette,
I'm going to take that mixture and alter it a little bit to get the middle
ground shadows. So I'm going to probably lighten it up,
make it little bit less yellow orange,
and come up with a middle.
A middle distance shadow color.
So the shadows will sort of drop off as you go back into the painting.
Like I said, I'll probably have to work some sky holes into the tree here.
And also work the tree a little bit into the sky.
But basically at this point I've got all of my main masses covered, everything's fairly organized.
There's a fall off of color, there's - I've got my upright planes very distinct from
my flat planes. I've got the slanted plane somewhere in the middle.
Yeah, I think I'm going to just now try to work back into the masses that
I've already established and try to get a little bit more character and variety within
the masses. So one interesting thing to point out is I'm always looking for those areas
that are very close in value and color but they have to be very distinct in
the painting. So here's one of them.
There's this tree that's in the foreground and there's a mountain that's miles away.
And the light on the tree is very close in value to the mountain.
But they have to be - they have to be distinctly different.
It's also a good - this area in general is a good place to
judge values because you got the sky, the mountain, the light of the tree, and
the shadow of the tree all kind of converging on this one area.
So it's a good place to kind of judge your values. And I just
want to work in
sky holes into this foreground tree just to show that it's slightly transparent against
there's a few patches back here of rock that I'm going to try to introduce into
the mountain. And there's a few trails you can kind of see. I'll try to suggest
some of those rocks and hopefully that will kind of lighten up and add just a
little bit of variety to that area.
Here I'll just create a little bit more of a sky gradation. So all of the
clouds do this kind of thin clouds are more or less the same value as they
go from top to bottom.
But the blue sky behind them will still have a gradation.
So I'll just look I'll pick out a few
places where there are no clouds and just try to get a gradation going behind the
clouds. I think it's it's coming together.
I want to introduce a little bit more variety in the foreground
and also the middle ground. There’s a few other greens out there,
that would be nice to have.
Just for variety. I'll look for - there might be a few branches in here that I can
pick up. Okay, I'm pretty much there.
I'm just going to take a few looks at the painting not looking at
the scene. Just looking at the painting now and seeing what I could do just to
wrap it up. Is there something that's really calling a lot of tension that doesn't
need to be there or is there something I'm missing, did I forget something.
So I'm just going to step back, take a look at a painting,
and see what I can do to end in the next minute or five minutes and
to kind of bring the sketch to a close.
So the thing I saw that I want to do before I stop is
I want to add just a little bit more
variety to this mass, meaning pick out a few lighter things.
And maybe even some color variety.
And I want to do the same to the foreground
mass. Okay, and I think I'll stop there.
So this is a roughly a one hour sketch and basically,
the idea was just to get that sense of the atmosphere, how it plays on the
colors. And how the planes affect the values.
So I'm going to call it a day on this one.