- Lesson Details
In the coastal scene, the nearby town was the focus of the painting. The town was close and you could clearly see individual structures. Interpreting and simplifying the town was the main challenge of the painting. The strategy used here was to group the vertical planes together in shadow, and all of the top planes together in the sunlight.
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.
There’s a lot of intricate shapes and I'm going to try to sort of simplify them
down into everything. That's a that's an upright shadow all the houses in shadow.
I'm going to try to link those all and use the same base color for those.
Everything that's a top plane
I'm going to use that -
I'm going to simplify as well and group together.
And hopefully that will help simplify the scene.
I'm also painting over the top of a sketch that I started the other day
and it might be a little bit confusing at first to watch but it'll actually
help me get to the effect a little bit faster because a lot of it the
darks and the greens I'll be able to just leave for now.
And so I’ll paint the lights into them.
I like working on top of old paintings because it also it just helps
me come up with colors that I might not mix when I'm just working on a
white canvas. So it gives the painting a little bit more - just a little bit more
variety right from the start, even though it might be a little bit confusing at the
composition and then just jump into it.
And I'm taking a few comparative measurements where it helps me.
So right now I'm trying to divide up everything on the ground in the
town and compare that to how big is the ocean.
So this should be a little bit wider than that.
I've got the street coming down here.
And I don't want to pick out every house right now.
I just want to get the main lines.
And I'm just using a sort of mud color to
get those lines down. See where this
little cove wraps around here. That might be a problem later on.
I'll pick out a few landmarks just as
reference points. So there's a tree
probably can't see what's going on here.
But there's a tree that's just sticking up -
if you follow this road back
then there's a tree sticking up.
I'll use a point like that as a sort of reference
because I don't want to draw in everything right now.
So I'll pick out a few - I'll pick out a few landmarks and a few
main lines and a few buildings maybe and then that will be enough information to just
start jumping into the painting.
So very tricky scene, lots of information.
Lots and lots of information. Okay,
so I've got a few landmarks here.
And it’s the main lines of the composition and a few landmarks so
I don't get lost myself,
basically. And now I'll start mixing up some of the main masses and as I
start putting them down on the pain will start to reveal itself.
So I think the first thing I'll do is I'll mix up something for the ocean.
Because then with that I can sort of to find that shape of the ocean against the
land right away. I think I'll probably mix up the foreground right away because that's so
much lighter than it is on the canvas right now.
So big things that will help me right away.
I'm going to do that.
Yeah, I just want to get it all kind of going together a little bit.
Okay, so now I can just kind of carve out the shape
of the land with the ocean brush.
And I'm using my landmarks that I placed before.
So just getting it down.
I’m not really worried about
filling in all the little gaps.
I just want to get this mass working and I sort of guessed
at the value of that.
I know that the breaking waves are going to be really light.
I know the sky is going to be lighter than that.
So I just guessed at this -
at that value and that color for now.
So as the painting goes on, as I add more things that might have to be
adjusted. I'm just going to quickly mix up the sky too so I can finish tracing
around this tree. And I'm just going to get rid of things that are kind of
bothering me. So I don't need to paint the whole sky right now.
I just want to get rid of some of these dark areas that are distracting.
Just whatever. It takes to get to the effect that I'm seeing.
So I'll get rid of some of this.
Little bit of a scrub just to get rid of that dark area.
Something that I can paint back into later.
I'll finish - kind of left off somewhere over here.
Leave some of these trees.
Okay. I might even get some of those crashing waves right now just so I can
see where my - just so I can see where the value ranges I’ll put the
lightest thing on right now.
So I can't get any lighter than that
really. That's my lightest range.
And I’ll start getting some of this grass in. Okay,
just to start keying up that mass.
Okay, so I've got sort of the main shape of the painting coming together.
This shape is sort of cut out against the ocean.
Now the tree is cut out against the ocean and the sky.
Now I got to start dividing all this town.
I've got to figure out a way to divide it up and I'm going to mix
up something for the road and the top of the roof and sort of
link those altogether because they're all top planes, flat planes.
So they're all similar. I'll mix up another color for anything that's side plane in shadow.
And all the trees are kind of - they’re going to be similar to what's down on
the canvas already. So I'll just try to leave that for now.
And I'm looking for a color - I’ve looked at the value of these top planes
and they're roughly the same as the ocean in value.
But they're different color. So I will just mix up a warmer -
kind of a warm yellowy gray.
And start laying in some of these streets and I just want to start picking up
on the main ones again and sort of try to paint around
the shadows. Okay, so that's one of the main streets then.
Here's another one. Have a bigger roof top right here.
There’s another rooftop here. I'm just covering up all the things that need to be covered.
At the same time, I'll start mixing up some of the shadow. So I've got basically.
I've got two colors going on in the middle ground.
I've got a top plane in sunlight and a side plane in shadow and I’m gonna use probably two
brushes and just bury those a little bit. So I’m gonna mix-up shadow now and start - I’ll
work them both together.
to need two shadow brushes, one for a darker building, one for a lighter building.
There’s a funny shape right there. So this is kind of a - this is really a challenge actually,
how much to simplify and how much to pick out.
So I'm picking up some of the main shadow chunks.
And doing the best I can.
I’ll jump back to the rooftop brush.
And I might even mix up a a tree brush.
I think I need it.
So what am also trying to do is - because I don't want to pick out every
house, some areas, especially as it go towards the back middle ground.
I'm just trying to say is it's mostly light or is it supposed to be shadow. If
it's mostly light, I'll put in all light and then I'll come back with shadows if
I need to. If it's mostly shadows,
I'll put in shadow and come back over the top with light later on.
So it's going to have to interpret this depends on how much time you have and
I just want to really just trying to get to the effect fast.
So I'm starting to just simplify even more and as you go to the back middle
ground. I picked out a few individual shapes in the foreground and now I'm just trying
to simplify a little bit.
Okay, it's still got a lot of work to do on that.
I want to maybe do a few more minutes on that and then I need to
jump into this tree a little bit more so I can start relating everything.
But I think this is starting to give the impression even though I've got roughly 50%
of the middle ground I haven't touched but I'm using the paint that was already there on
the canvas. It's kind of a placeholder for the trees in the scene.
Alright I am almost at that point where I just want to jump into something else.
I just need it a few more individual rooftops. So just - all I'm doing is just trying
to divide light and shadow.
Try to do it cleanly.
Can't get every detail.
Okay, I'm going to jump into the lights of this tree
a little bit more. I'm going to go for the lights first because I've already got
a lot of the dark's down.
And if it's working already, if the color I have down already on the canvas is
working I don't need to touch
So I’m just kind of painting what needs to be painted. So I just got a color
mixed up that is the light of this tree. It’s a fairly
dark light shape. And in a second
I'll mix up the the light shape - or sorry that the shadow shape of this tree.
Shadow color I should say. Okay,
I better mix up a shadow.
I think I'll have - I’ll mix up right away two colors for the shadow part of
tree, one kind of purpley blue for the trunk and the other one for all the
needles. Same thing here. I can't paint every branch and every needle so I
have to try to find the main branches, try to find the important branches.
Because there's just not enough time to do everything.
So try to find the ones that represent that tree best for now.
And making - I’ve got the same basic pile,
but I'm making small variations
as I see them. And just looking now that I have that shadow and I think
when I go back to the lights I can make them a little bit lighter in
some areas. But I'll just get the main
mass down. A lot of this I can - it's really helpful to have something dark already
there because I can just kind of leave it.
I'll have to cut into it with the background and maybe lighten a few
areas. Maybe I'll do that now, lighten a few areas.
I'll even pull a few lights on the branches where they are.
So I want to hear. Maybe this trunk is getting a little.
Why is branches up here catching a little bit of light?
Okay. I just noticed a big shadow chunk that I missed.
That's the first building down there.
It’s a shadow but it's all - it's getting so much reflected light that it's almost as light
as the ground.
Okay, I think it's time to look at the ground plane.
So if you remember, I just kind of scrubbed that in really quickly at the beginning
just to cover up that dark area.
Now when I've got everything in, I realize it could be a little bit
lighter and it's right now
it's really blue so I will make it a little bit more orangey yellow.
And I need more yellow.
Okay, where's my brush for that? Here I go. Put in a little bit of this kind of violet color
first. So I always try to find lots of color
variety in the foreground. Color and value variety you can have in the foreground.
Anything towards the viewer you can afford to have more variety both color and value.
So that's what I'm looking for in the foreground.
I just want - I want color variety.
So right now I'm seeing some kind of violety things and those will actually help the
green things pop out a little bit.
So I'm putting some of that down first.
Okay, that's a better orangey
color. Okay, that's a little bit better for that mass.
I'm going to now start may be suggesting more of the trees
in the town and same thing.
I'm going to have a shadow brush and a light brush.
And more variety for the trees coming forward.
So I just want to point something out.
Part of the beauty of the scene is the harmony
and the subtle differences between things. For example,
there's a shadow part of a house right here,
and it's right next to a light part of a bush.
And they're so close in value and actually kind of close in color.
And to get that subtle contrast there is something that will help really make the painting
work. So I want to make sure that the bush is just a little bit lighter than
the shadow area. And so it's those little contrasts that I'm often often looking at.
So I’ve just got my shadow brush right now
and I'm kind of, as I go towards the background, I'm getting less intense and more
blue. And if it's working I don't need to paint it,
so a lot of these areas seem to be working already.
Just from the canvas color.
Now just kinda jumping around a bit. Color variety in the foreground is a good thing.
So I’m putting oranges next to these greens here.
It's what I see as well,
but it's also - it helps the painting.
Okay, I'll continue with my light
brush. Lights of the trees and pick out a few individual ones like this one.
Maybe this one against the ocean.
And I’ll paint a few holes here, sky holes or background holes.
I'll just give more shape to this tree.
So I kept all my brushes pretty separate and clean,
The palette’s getting a little bit muddy.
But I'm able to kind of jump around and and kind of come back to things
because I've kept fairly clean brushes.
So I've got this brush,
I'm only using it for the top planes on the road or the roof and so
nothing else is mixing in with that.
So it's really easy for me to just come in, go to my sort of mother pile
of top plane, and just pick up where I left off 20 minutes or half an
hour ago somewhere else in the painting.
So that's a really important.
If you don't have a separate brush for everything,
you need to clean off your brush every time you dip back in.
I just want to kind of enhance the shape of this
tree. That's the whole point of putting these
little holes in. Kind of gives the illusion that this roof line is continuing beyond
that - behind the tree. Okay,
I think I'll come back to the the ocean brush and I'll clean that up a
little bit and I'll start working on sky little bit too. If you
remember the sky - most of the sky -
I haven't even touched. This was a sky from a previous painting and so I'm just -
I just covered up the distracting area.
So now I can kind of go back and start painting the sky a little bit
more and also the ocean.
It's actually - the ocean is a little bit nicer right now.
Before when I started it was basically one color only and now there's a nice gradation
and a little bit of variation.
So it's actually, it's good that I waited a little bit to do that.
Trying to clean up some of these shapes as well.
I can cut in, make some more intricate shapes back here.
And I've got a clean brush that has white on it for the crashing waves.
I could also use that for any kind of
highlights or reflections on cars if I get that far in, I can start
using this brush. It’s basically white.
So anything that's a reflection of the sun.
I'll get some of the waves over here.
Maybe one or two of the rooftops
can have a little bit of glare.
I might try to suggest a few cars.
If I do that then I can maybe put a little bit of glare
into the street. I'll try to put a little bit, right now
there's some nice glare on some of those cars.
I'll just try that see if it works.
This roof is really
kind of glare right now too I could - I got to decide to
change it or leave it.
I might add just a little bit of glare on it.
Okay so I’m just adding a little bit of glare to this roof.
Hopefully that helps make it a little -
and I might do a few more highlights like that. I don’t want
to do too many, it'll get distracting.
There’s one here. There’s another car back there.
There’s only a few things left to do really. I want to actually just paint the sky
where I haven’t painted it. I'm going to add a little bit of shadow into the foreground.
And I want to put one or two more sky holes into the tree.
So let’s start with the sky.
Then again I don't need to fill every every inch. If it's working
I'm just going to leave it.
Clean up this edge just a little bit.
At this point if there's something coming through from the previous painting it's more about
is it working or is it distracting. If it's working I just want
to leave it. I'm just trying to get a gradation going from top to bottom.
There’s a weird chunk of paint from the previous painting.
I just want to take that off. Okay.
So any mass I want to try to keep it lively and fresh.
There's a lot of ways of doing that but there's one way that will for sure
kill it and that's if you keep touching the painting over and over and over and
over and over and over without dipping back into your palette.
So I'm trying to avoid that.
I'm trying to lay down fresh color.
And if I'm sort of blending a little bit the sky or creating that gradation,
I want to do it sort of randomly because I want a little bit some yellows
and some greens and blues all kind of mixing in there.
So I’m trying to keep that area lively.
It's a big blank space right now.
So it needs to have some interest in it and so little bit of vibration, a little bit
of lively brushwork will help.
And I might just paint the ocean into the sky a little bit because
this dark line is kind of bothering me right now.
So I want to get rid of that.
And then I'll come and cut back into that with a clean sky brush.
Okay, I'll try to put a few of these
holes in the tree. I got to be careful because I don't want too many.
It's a pretty solid tree so.
And I want to make sure that every hole that I choose to put in
there is just helping the tree structure.
If you noticed on the palette
I mixed up this color is not the ocean color, it’s slightly darker.
Okay, one of the last things I want to do here is I'm just going to
try to get a little bit more variety,
value variety, in the foreground.
So I'm just going to suggest a little bit of shadow
here. Just more variety in the foreground. I’m gonna hit this little bush that has kind of
cool highlights on it. Maybe a few little highlights here.
And maybe just a little bit more variety in the foreground in the form of
little details suggesting grass. A few orangy spots. I'm just looking around the canvas and I'm seeing a
few distracting things. Like in this corner
there's a it looks it looks like there's like two stripes right here.
And that's just from my original lay in of that mess and I just need to break
that up a little bit.
Some of this I want to just hit with a little bit lighter paint.
It's just a little bit distracting.
Just one or two touches.
Okay, I think I'll call that one done for now.
So there's still a lot of areas that I haven't even touched but I think it's actually
working. So the effect is working.
That's what I'm after. That's the idea of using a tone canvas, you can get to
an effect faster and you can leave a lot of areas because you literally
don't have to cover every square inch of the canvas. But for me,
it's a good way to get to an effect quickly.
Like this one. I'll wrap it up for today,
but it might be nice to come back tomorrow with fresh eyes and just take a
look and see if I can make any small changes to improve the painting.
For example, if there was clouds tomorrow,
I might be really tempted to add clouds into the sky because it's a very empty
area up here. I might adjust just a little bit like the small contrast like I
was talking about here. Just those tiny contrasts or something
I can adjust on the second day.
Well, I'll leave it here for now.
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Reference Images (43)
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1. Overview of the Scene1m 36sNow playing...
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2. Sketching in the Composition24m 38s
3. Painting the Rooftops25m 15s
4. Adding Variety to the Tree & Town23m 27s
5. Final Touches & Conclusion24m 21s
6. Time Lapse Progression10m 2s