- Lesson details
This coastal scene had a clear example of atmospheric perspective. Most of the shapes and masses were pretty clear and simplified, but one of the challenges was interpreting the background which was full of houses and streets. In this one hour sketch, the goal was to suggest a town in the distance but while not making it the focus of the painting.
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'm going to try to do more of a sketch.
This effect is going to change quite a bit in the next hour
I'm guessing so I want to try to get the main masses down in an hour and
just make this a sketch.
So right now I'm looking out there and in my mind,
I’ve kind of simplified the scene into about 6 or 7 masses. I get to sky,
the ocean, the back hills, the foreground, and then maybe two masses for the foreground
trees. So trying to keep that in mind, the simplified version of it.
I'm going to just to go ahead and start with composition and put a few
lines down and then just jump into the masses.
and trying to place this thing, really
trying to get a lot of sky.
And trying to sort of see the connected
lines going through everything. So trying to throw in these trees.
I'm kind of Imagining the coastline behind them and I'm going to try to get two
overlapping forms in the foreground just create a little bit of interest.
And I might pick out a few
details in the middle ground,
but I don't want to get too caught up at this point.
A few houses down here
that would be nice to pick out,
Okay, so that's that's basically the composition.
You can take more time doing that
but since I want to just treat this as a quick sketch,
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the composition.
So now I'm going to think about a mass plan or a tonal plan.
I’m gonna think about what's the lightest part of the picture and I want to have
a sort of value hierarchy in mind.
So I kind of in my mind divided the painting up until about seven
value categories and I'm going to look right now
And the lightest thing in the picture is going to be the crashing waves on the
beach. Just after that is the sky.
Then it's going to be the back hill, then the foreground,
and then the lights on the trees and then the shadows on the trees, all in that
order. I’m gonna try to keep that in mind right from the start so I don't get
confused later on as the sun changes a bit.
I might even - sometimes I even make a little plan on the palette.
If things are going to change a lot,
it's nice to have a little
plan going on the palette that you can refer to.
So I'm just going to make a quick
plan here. I guess I forgot to mention
the ocean is really the third category there.
So this might take awhile to figure out if you're new to this.
This is one of the harder things to see
for a beginner or even for somebody that's pretty experienced, is how to simplify a scene into
as few value masses as possible.
And so I think I've got about seven here.
Sometimes it's good to - if you're having trouble seeing, being able to tell what's lighter
or darker, you can hold up - make a little isolated spot with your fingers.
Hold that up to one mass and then drop it down and compare it to another mass.
So this case I'm comparing, I'm asking myself,
what's lighter the foreground - all this green stuff in the foreground -
it looks really light - is that lighter or is it the back hill which actually
looks kind of dark and can be deceiving.
But it's actually- it's obvious when you compare like this that the foreground is much
darker than the back hill.
So that's one little trick to use when when looking at values.
And the lights on the trees are going to be just a little bit darker
than the going to foreground. So that's roughly -
that's roughly a value plan right there.
So you can see this on the palette.
It's sky, ocean, hill, crashing waves.
Well, let's just do this in order of value.
Let's say the crashing waves are the lightest thing and the sky,
then the ocean, then the hill, then the foreground grass, then the lights on the trees.
And finally, the shadow of the tree is the darkest thing.
So this is what I'm thinking about when I'm starting a painting before I start painting.
I have this mental idea established already. Sometimes painting is about is about discovering what's
there? But the more experience you get
you kind of know a little bit better
what's there. But either way outside you have to keep - you have to have that idea
from the start because things are going to change a lot.
Okay, in this case, I think I'm going to start
by putting in the tree shadow mass. And when I'm putting in the tree shadow
mass, I'm trying to ask myself,
how dark do I want to go?
Because it's the darkest thing in the painting.
But I still have to decide how dark I want to make it.
I don't want to make it black
because they're so much ambient light outside.
So I'm going to make it a sort of
lower mid tone, I guess. And right now I just want to get this kind of working.
Sometimes I'm using the sort of scrub in technique which is very fast to get
a lot of paint across a surface. You can kind of scrub with a brush,
sometimes I'm laying down a stroke, a clean stroke.
Okay, so that's as dark as this painting’s going to get.
Nothing will be darker than this.
And I don't really want to pick out too many individual shapes right now.
But I'm leaving some places for the light
and some places I will paint the light into that later on.
And this is the first thing I'm putting down.
So it's kind of a guess.
It's kind of a commitment just to this value.
So from this point on, everything will step back in value, meaning everything will
get lighter as it goes back from there.
So I'm going to somehow have to go from this value that I've already established as
my darkest value and step back and kind of gradate back to that back hill which is
very light actually. And maybe this is the time to start putting in that back hill.
Or that back land mass.
And I want to see how light I can make it,
I don't want to make it too light because then I won't have room for the
sky. I don't want to make it too dark because then it will compete with the
foreground trees. And I'm going to go for a sort of a warm
grey. And just put something down there and sort of test that out see how
that feels. So you can see on the palette you should be able to see on
the palette the difference between - the difference in value between the back landmass and the
foreground tree shadow, it's quite a big difference.
So I'm pretty pretty happy with the first few.
Spots of color I put down back there.
So from this point, I'm going to have to make this landmass slightly darker as it
comes forward. And as it comes forward I can start thinking about putting a little bit
more variety in it as it comes forward I can start maybe start thinking about picking out some
individual shapes of trees and houses when I get down to the middle ground here.
And I’m going to make small variations along the way so I see that back hill as having
a lot of blue in it
compared to the rest of the mass so I’m just going to make that a little
bit bluer. And when I get down here,
I see a little bit more yellowy green.
All within the context of that major - of the main color.
I'm seeing little variations as they come forward and I'll kind of make those with my
brush. If the variations get too big I'll take a clean brush.
It might be even a good idea just to kind of scrub in a main color
and work into it. It’s a very fast way of getting to the effect.
And at some point I'm going to reach the middle ground and I might want to
take a new brush for that.
I might just see how light I can go on those crashing waves too.
Mix up some sort of a yellowy
white, which is kind of the lightest thing
I can use. Okay. Pretty good.
I think I can come back and adjust.
Now that I've got a few things going
I think I could probably adjust this mass and make it a little bit light.
Now that I'm comparing it next to the lightest thing but I'm going to
go ahead and get the sky in there first and then I'll eventually work back into
this mass. And I'm going to take a big brush for this guy just cuz I
want to get it covered quickly.
And I want to think about assertive gradation.
Going from the bottom to the top of the sky.
So it's a value gradation and a color gradation.
And since we're looking into the sun, the sky is going to be very light and
very yellowy. See how that looks and that looks pretty good.
It's actually almost the color of the canvas,
which is kind of nice sometimes.
A lot of times you can just leave something
that's the color of the canvas.
So I’m not gonna have to worry too much about filling in every hole in right now
because the value that I want is already there more or less.
Okay I’m just gonna kind of darken this as it goes towards the top of the sky.
I’ll add more blues and greens and sort of paint into this gradation, paint into the paint that I’ve already
got down. So it's just a subtle gradation top to bottom.
Okay, and as a mass,
this is already sort of reading so I'm going to jump
to the next thing, which is the - maybe in this case the ocean I should get
going. Actually maybe I'll put a little bit of that sand down there.
Right next to the waves
there’s a strip of sand.
I can look for a gradation in the ocean to.
Usually in water there's a gradation just like in the sky
there's a gradation. In this case
it's very small. So I might be able to
vary it just a little bit but it's really flat out there and
there's not much of a gradation.
So I'm going to paint it mostly flat.
So I've got to make sure that this is now lighter than the hill, darker than
the sky. The color I’m mixing up now has to fall in between the
sky and the back land mass.
So if I go too dark here there won't be enough contrast between the land mass and
the ocean. If I go too light,
there won't be enough contrast between the sky and the ocean.
So it's getting the value right mostly. And I'm going to paint around the trees
a little bit. I can also cut into these shapes later.
I just want to get the mass down right now.
And there is a slight gradation right in the back at the- there's kind of
a fog over the ocean and kind of starts disappearing into the aky a bit.
So I'll try to get that
in there. At this point I'm kind of noticing that
the first color that I chose for the back land mass,
it's probably a little bit dark.
It could go lighter. So I'm just - now that I have these things all working in
this area I've got ocean, sky, land mass, and that the lightest thing, the crashing waves.
I can see them all and compare them all and right now I'm just seeing like
that this could go a little bit lighter.
And this can go a little bit lighter. And I might just - I might just paint
back into that right now to really establish the right amount of contrast there. Another
option is I could go a little bit darker on my sky,
but that's kind of risky.
I want the painting to be kind of high keyed and
and light in general. So
I'm going to choose to make this a little bit lighter.
And I might be able to even - I can even start taking some of that sky
color and mixing it in.
So there we go even lighter
and even a little bit more yellowy. It starts to -
these background masses start to take on the color of the sky a little bit
when they get way back there.
All right, so just adjusting that.
Okay, so that's a little bit closer to
what's out there right now.
Might even be a little bit too light.
But I'm going to leave it for now.
And I'm going to jump down here into the middle ground and maybe even
trying to come up with a strategy.
It might be more - it might be easier and better just to kind of
paint into something, paint into an average tone
and I'm going to try doing that.
So I’ll kind of lightly scrub in something and I'll paint into that.
I'll paint lights and darks into this.
See if it works. how to scrub the sound of it And I've got sort of
trying to get that idea of atmospheric perspective.
So I've got more blue here, lighter and bluer gradating up to a darker
and yellower thing. That's a general
principle that you have to have. Within this is going to be a lots of variation
eventually, but to get that general gradation is what I'm after right now. And I decided
to just kind of scrub this in as a mass, a solid mass right
now and then work wet into wet later on to pick out a few darker and
lighter things. So it's just a variation of grey's really at this point.
Okay, I'm going to come down to the foreground I think and start getting that
in. So thinking about the value again and the color
relative to everything else. So I might even use my little plan here
on the palette. Go a little bit light.
And I'm looking for a sort of general tone again,
so. And I might sort of scrub this one in as well
and paint back into it.
I’m gonna stand back from time to time and see how that looks.
Okay just to get that mass going,
I'll come back to that a little bit later.
Maybe I'll just throw a little bit of variation right now
in that mess. Try to find a sort of pattern of
this lighter grass. So with atmospheric perspective
I'm always thinking oranges and yellows come forward, blues and violets go back.
So if I can find a way to get more orange and yellow in the foreground,
it's just going to help pull that foreground forward.
So the whole painting in general at this point it's basically yellows and oranges go
gradating back to blues and violets.
I think I might jump to the middle ground again and pick out a few things.
A few shapes there that are interesting just to suggest
some trees and houses in that middle ground.
So I’m trying to pick out a few trees here.
few houses. Get more - little bit of variation.
And I'm really not even trying to find individual -
I'm not trying to paint all the houses.
I'm just trying to pick up pick out a few things that kind of suggest.
houses and trees down there. So I just put a few dark accents there.
I'll pick out a few lighter ones as well.
Just gonna lighten this up a bit.
I think this whole thing is becoming lighter as I was painting here
and I don't want to chase it too much but. Okay,
I'll find a few - a little bit of lighter a few tress
back there. Maybe I'll start working these trees first and then hit some of the light in
the middle ground. Okay, I'll start picking up a few of the lights on trees.
And I'm trying to kind of tie all the lights together and tie all the shadows
together. It makes it a more unified pleasing effect.
So that's another thing I'm thinking about, connecting everything as I'm interpreting all the shapes. So
the light is kind of - it's almost a top light right now.
So the light’s just hitting the top so these plans. And I’ll some of the
sky holes through the trees here. And I might be able to go even slightly darker on the -
just looking now again at the first thing I put down was this color for the
a tree shadow. I'm just trying to look at that again.
Now that I've got everything going.
Do I want to go back in there and alter that a bit
and I think I could go back in there and make it a little bit warmer,
a little bit darker, and sort of reinstate some of these shadows.
The other major thing I want to do is I want to get back in this
middle ground and start hitting some of the top planes that are in sunlight right now.
Yeah, I'll put a little bit more variety into the foreground as well.
But the light is changing very fast.
I might just look at the sky again.
I'm looking here and it's - these two things are just jumping a little bit too much.
Meaning there's just too much contrast there.
So I might look at the sky value again.
That's one of those things that's - it's changing a lot too.
So I have to just decide do I want to remember how it was or do
I want to change it to how it is now?
And I think in this case,
I'm just going to make the decision to make these two things a little bit closer
together. It's just a little bit more harmonious.
I might even try to get these two things together a little bit more.
And just pull the ocean up a little bit and I'll cut back into it.
Okay, I'll start picking out some of the rooftops now in the middle ground.
There’s a few nice more orangy ones. There’s kind of a road back here.
And I'll start picking out some of the - there’s a few trees back there.
Little bit of light around that one. A little bit of light And I'll get a
few more of the houses, the sort of white houses are a little bit
lighter, the part in shadow.
But it’s starting to suggest some trees going back and some houses going back.
I just want to get a few more of the lighter parts.
And this all has to be interpreted because this is a - this is a sketch,
my goal was to do a one hour sketch.
So all this information has to be sort of condensed, interpreted, simplified.
And so I'm not trying to - I’m not even attempting to paint
all the houses or all the trees and a lot of times
I'm not even painting the exact tree in the exact place.
I’m just using the scene to try to get a sense of the color and
some of the shapes going back and that's the best you can do on a sketch,
especial a quick one. I'm more concerned with the thelight effect and the overall
harmony between all the masses.
That's really what I'm going for more then picking out exact details at this point.
I'll try to get a little tiny bit more form into this hill.
Just a little bit more variation.
Suggest more houses back there.
So I just want to add a little bit of variety to this foreground
and find a few accents maybe.
Just try to find some of this really yellowy orange stuff.
Trying to find a few accents here in the foreground.
Just put a little bit more light on these trees too. Just try to tie that into
the foreground. And I think I'm just going to add a little bit more color to
that - to the first color
I put down a little bit more color back in there.
That will warm this up a bit, that will hopefully pull this this mass forward a
bit. So I’ll just find a few more intense greens and oranges in there.
Because I just really want this to read - I’m looking at this -
I'm jumping - I’m kind of moving my eye between this mass and this mass.
And when I do that, when I focus here,
and then I suddenly focus here,
I just see kind of warm, cold, warm, cold, and I want to get more of that
sense of really blue and more of an orangey green.
Okay, so I think that helped a bit to pull that forward.
As far as color. I’m gonna put a few color accents in the foreground and then
call this a sketch. I want to look for something really yellow,
yellowy green, and sort of pull that out.
These fresh greens are really intense.
I'm going to try one last attempt to lightening this up and then call it a
sketch. That's been getting lighter the whole time, this back hill.
I'm chasing it a little bit but trying to make it fit with the rest of
the painting at this point.
Okay, so it's been over an hour and the light’s changed quite a bit.
I'm going to just call this a sketch at this point.
And I can leave it as is or I can use it as an
idea for a bigger painting and now I am familiar with the way the light works
at this location. So I’m just going to call it a day on that one.
Transcription not available.
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1. Overview of the Scene1m 6sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Establishing a Value Plan25m 59s
3. Blocking in the Masses25m 27s
4. Gradations & Variety17m 4s
5. Foreground & Finishing Details12m 58s
6. Time Lapse Progression10m 4s