- Lesson details
In this grassland scene, the main draw was to the contrast of the dark oaks tree against the sycamore tree just in front of it with yellowish-green spring leaves.
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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it was a sunny day.
There are some clouds rolling in.
Because of the changing weather I'm going to paint on a slightly smaller panel
and try to paint rather fast because I think the clouds will come in.
This is a sketch that I started last week and I got rained out while I
was doing it, so I'll never get back to this location.
So I'm just going to paint over it.
And I threw a little bit of a tone over the top of it just to
unify the the canvas a bit.
So I'm just going to start by - like I always do - by putting a few lines
down for the composition. And then I'll start jumping into the masses.
I might do a little palette plan here so the thing that I really like about
the scene os that the new almost yellow spring leaves against the darker tree in the
middle ground. So that's the thing that I really want to get in this painting.
Okay, so few quick lines,
and it's a little bit confusing to see right now.
But I'll quickly get this older painting covered up.
I think I'm just going to make a little plan on the palette just dividing up
the main masses and it’s a good idea for anybody to do it.
It's good idea to have in your mind before you start painting a bigger painting, just
a plan. So I like to try to divide up everything into six or seven masses.
So in this case, we've got the sky,
the distant hill, the foreground grass, two masses for the tree, one light
one shadow, and maybe a third one for the trunk of the foreground tree.
So I'll just show you what that looks like on a palette.
So I'll just make something like a thumbnail sketch on the palette.
Just to give myself a - remind myself of the main masses of the painting.
So I've got this tree,
tree trunk, there's a dark tree behind it.
There’s the ground. There's a few other trees over here.
And there's the hill behind. So I've got to divide this up into
a few - simplify it into a few masses.
So I'm going to look out there now and start thinking about the values
a bit. I think the lightest thing in the painting is going to be
some of the light hitting the side of this trunk.
And I will just kind of put that there so that will be the lightest
part of the painting. Just a sliver of light there.
Then just after that there will be a sky
mass. That's just a little bit darker.
Okay, then there's the - after that the next in the value hierarchy that's probably the ground
plane and the yellowish new leaves. I'm going in order from lightest to darkest now.
So just a little thumbnail sketch so I don't get lost later on.
Okay, we got the ground plane
and some of these leaves against the darker tree mass and this is really
what I want to get in the painting.
This is the fun part about this painting
is to get these leaves against that dark mass.
And just one step darker would be
some of the leaves back here.
These back trees, just one step darker than the ground plane.
And the hill is probably the same value, just a different color.
And I could probably just leave it, leave the palette.
And I'm just missing the tree light and shadow.
And there might be a shadow or two on the ground,
but something like that.
So that's the simplified plan for the painting.
I've got one two,
three, four, five, six or seven masses.
So now I just want to take this idea
and bring it up here and do it a little bit slower and more carefully.
And I'm going to try to make my observations when the sun is out,
so there's clouds going in and out.
Maybe do - I’ll do the ground plane first just to cover up some of the old
painting. And I can even just come over here and check my color against that.
And I think I might be a little bit too light already.
I’m just going to make that a little bit darker.
Okay that's better. And for now I just want to kind of cover-up some of that
old painting, I'll just scrub this in.
And come back to this a little bit later.
Okay, I think I'll - maybe I'll get some of the trees blocked in here.
And right now my decision of what to do first is just basically what's
going to cover up something that's just out of place right now.
So I'll get some of these trees going.
Okay, I might hit the back hill a little bit.
It's kind of a gray green.
Might even just look at the palette and okay,
that's almost exactly what I have for the sketch.
So I think I'm good to go there.
And I’m just going to cover up the sort of areas that aren't working. I'm
just going to put a little bit of of the lightest thing on there just
to remind myself how light I can go.
So this tree trunk I can go
about that light. I think I'll probably get the sky in now.
Look at the shape of this hill one more time.
Get the sky in and I might kind of
save some - a place for a cloud or two. So I don't want to paint the
sky too solidly right now because I want to be able to put a
cloud in there later. And I’m too blue, be a little bit more yellow. Here I’ll think
about tracing around some of the branches and some of the branches later on.
I will paint over the sky.
I don't need to trace around every single leaf or branch
because I'll come back and paint those into the sky.
I just want to keep the sky open because I would really like to get a cloud to
float over and just be able to pop that in so I don't want to
put too much paint on it right now.
So I've left this alone.
I left the main tree alone right now because it's more or less the value
that I want anyway. So it was more important to get everything else covered up then
then to get this covered up at the start.
So I'm already starting to get to the effect.
Yeah, I'll get some of the leaves and they're not - when the sun should be
back in a minute. And I don't want to copy what's there right now
because there's a cloud that went over.
So everything in the scene now is in a cloud shadow.
So it’s a completely different effect, I want to just wait for the sun to come back
to make observations. Sun’s coming back a little bit now,
but I still have my plan and I know exactly the value hierarchy
that everything should be placed in. So I can continue working because I kind of made
a plan and I've already analyzed the scene.
Okay, so I'm basically - I'm now painting the light of the tree.
I'm doing several things here.
I'm trying to leave some of the leaves that I've painted in.
But I'm not too concerned because I can later on come over and paint leaves into
this. I'm also looking at the contrast between the light and the shadow.
It’s a very dark tree,
so there's not much contrast.
So I'm trying to really make a distinct difference from the light to the
shadow here. And as I'm going along, I'm just painting around everything and knowing that I'll
paint into things later and around some things now, into some things later.
Trying to keep everything clean and and separate and just trying to really get those big
chunks to relate to each other.
So the ground against the hill, the hill against the sky, sky against the shadow of
the tree, all of these pieces.
Just trying to get the right amount of contrast.
And once I have everything and then I can take a look at the painting and
start adjusting a little bit.
I just want to point out another one of these areas that I like so
much in paintings where you have two things that are next to each other and
are almost identical in color and value.
But so I'll leave that for now.
These are almost the same, the trunk coming up into the sky against the light of
the - of the middle ground tree.
They’re almost identical in value and that's okay.
I might come along later if I need to and put a little - make a little
difference in the trunk there right now.
Right now I don't need to, it's kind of working for this stage.
Okay, the only thing I'm really missing right now,
I've pretty much got all the masses placed.
I’m missing a little bit of this foreground bush and there's a very soft
cast shadow here and here and so I'll get those in and then I'll take a
look at the painting and see what I need to start adjusting.
So I'm always always thinking about value.
So when I'm mixing this color, the color of this cast shadow,
really what I'm doing is before I even think about the color
I'm thinking about how light or dark is it compared to the shadow of the tree
or the grass that's in light. I’m trying to figure out the value of it.
Then I'll think of the color of it.
So I'm thinking okay that's a very intense green,
maybe leaning towards the blue.
Now it's time to really stand back and take a look at what I can change.
Right now that's going to help the painting the most really.
So I really did want a cloud
so I think I'm going to take - there is a few clouds out there now.
There are a few so I might just take a minute and work on the sky
and try to come up with a design that helps the painting.
I think I might pop a cloud right in there.
And even though the cloud is - it looks kind of light in the - my
mark on the painting will be the sunlight on the side of that trunk still.
So it's not really - adding these clouds is not really changing the value of this mass,
the sky mass. It's actually just adding a little bit of interest and variety
and hopefully it helps the design a little bit.
And I might even put in there some clouds that are a little bit darker.
They're kind of in the shadow of another cloud.
It's kind of subtle,
but I think I'll include that.
And as I'm doing that I'll put a few sky holes here.
So I’m trying to get different sizes and shapes of clouds.
And I think actually this one might be too similar to this one so I might
take that out. Put in one down here.
Okay, I'll take my sky brush again and sort of get rid of this.
Still want to maintain that gradation from top to bottom in the sky.
And I'll put a few sky holes in since I've got the brush out.
So you can see I'm mixing a darker color.
Okay, I don't want to spend too much time in the sky.
I think that's okay for now.
And I think I'll go back to the first thing that I laid down which was
this ground plane. And I want to start getting more variety in there.
And probably add some add some oranges and some -
maybe I'll add a hint of these white flowers in there,
too. Actually before I do that,
I'm just going to work on the trunk here a little bit.
And maybe a little bit -
maybe a little bit on this trunk as well.
Okay, I think I'm going to add a little bit of variety to this back hill.
And there's a lot of stuff going on back there.
There's a lot of dead branches that are kind of a violety grey.
And then there's little bits of fresh greens and I want to get those two
things kind of mixing. So right now mostly what I have is do the greens.
So I'm going to mix up that violet grey.
And again, this shouldn't really change the mass.
It should just add variety to this mass.
So if my color or my value is too different it starts breaking the mass
apart. And I want this mass to hold together because the main thing I want is
this against this against this so it's always the bigger
pieces that have to work against each other. Okay,
there's another bush back here to that
I'll try to get in.
It's kind of a reddish
grey. And this is also a hint of violet in the in the foreground.
So I'll probably hit a few of those now.
There’s violet - both violets and reds mixing in with the green
everywhere. If you have just a solid color then the painting is not
going to vibrate. It's just going to look flat.
I want to introduce some of the oranges and violets and it should still read as
a green mass when I'm done,
but it will actually enhance that green by having the reds and oranges next to it.
And some violets as well.
I'll make them the same value actually at the grass.
Just a different color. I've got some of the leaves in
light on this bush, but I don't have the shadow leaves.
I'll put some of those in now.
Okay. I might also get some of the rocks on the back of
the hill. This is also - the shape of this tree is also just I realized it's
looking too flat across there.
So I’ll try to vary that a little bit.
Okay, I'll get some of the rocks in the background.
I might be a bit light.
Okay, I went a little bit too light there.
That's okay. I’ll adjust it. And the same thing here,
I don't want to break this mass up.
And I think that's what I've just thought I've added something
that's too light, it’s starting to break the mass up.
So I need to adjust that.
Okay, that's a bit better.
I’m just going to step back and look at everything together again.
these leaves. And so I'm going to take my tree brush and my yellow leaf brush
and sort of work those shapes a bit.
And I’m gonna do the same in the sky.
So I'll take my sky brush and my leaf brush and work these shapes a
little bit. Because I'm just not happy with the design of what I have there.
And again, I'm not trying to pick out every leaf because I just simply can’t, especially
in a one-hour sketch. So I'm just trying to get a nice arrangement of groupings of
leaves, pick out a few individual ones.
And so I'm just looking for a bigger patterns and trying to interpret what's there into
paint strokes. Okay, I might add a few branches as well.
A few branches and then I'll put a few leaves on.
Just want to make this tree a little bit more transparent as well.
So I'm just cut a few
tree holes in there before I forget about that.
Okay take out the leaf brush.
Okay, I'll add a few few details to the foreground and maybe pick out a few
more leaves here. And then I think I'll think about calling this sketch.
And I'm sort of - I’m intentionally leaving this tree
as one simplified mass as far as the leaves go.
Because I really want the interest here.
And I can't paint every leaf everywhere.
And so I want to decide
where do I want to put my emphasis here or here and it's really clear
that I want it here.
So this tree here is working
just fine for me right now.
I might just hit a few more greens back here
for some variety. And I might hit a few accents in this bush.
Actually I kind of want to make that more transparent looking.
Just suggesting more detail here, there's some flowers
back there and there's a few up here too. And I'm going to take another look
and see what I can do to wrap it up,
but I think it's pretty much there.
I'm just going to step back and take one more look.
Okay, and I think what I'm seeing now is I think I could just have - it
would be nice to have just a little bit more contrast between the leaves here and
the sky behind. So I'm going to just try one more time to get a little
bit more contrast. And I think I'll take the brush I've been using for branches
and just try to work a few more branches in there.
Just a few accents. Last thing I want to do.
I just want to work on this kind of a harsh line here.
I want to just get rid of that a little bit.
Just in a few places. And maybe put in a little bit more cloud behind these would
help the contrast. Okay, I think I'm going to call that done.
I'm going to call it a sketch.
I've got all the pieces there.
I've got all the masses organized.
And I really like this scene.
Be fun to come back and do a bigger painting.
But now I have an idea of how the light’s going to work and I
can take this back home.
look at the composition, see what I would change on a bigger painting.
And just use it as an idea for something else or I can leave it like
this as a standalone sketch.
Okay, so that's it for this one. I’m gonna pack it up.
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1. Overview of the Scene1m 29sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Sketching in Lines of the Composition25m 58s
3. Painting the Leaves of the Tree19m 12s
4. Painting Clouds & Adding Variety23m 40s
5. Final Touches & Conclusion21m 46s
6. Time Lapse Progression10m 1s