Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Devils lake

Much more is needed than just a nice photo to make a successful painting.  Fortunately I don't take many good photos.  Here's an example of things I'm still learning as a painter.

Working on painting ideas, I'll do color comps in my sketchbook. Often times I believe that a particular concept will make a great painting only to change my mind once I've completed a color comp.  Here's a sketchbook example that I moved on from, at least for now. I do like the impressionism sky treatment.

Here's another one that I thought would make a good full size painting. It too would need more refinement.
Now a 3rd attempt. I felt strongly that this would be a winner.  I was motivated by the subtle variation of color in the rocks, the soft atmosphere of the overcast light with just a slight bit of fog. Not really fog, this was a cool fall late morning and the air was heavy.
This is the photo reference. We were hiking at Devils Lake, climbing the trails up the bluff. I shot many photos that day that were inspiring.  Rarely do I base a composition so closely to one photo. Usually a painting is a combination of multiple photos and elements from imagination.
Sticking closely to the color comp and the photo, the finish came together relatively smoothly.  I had a frame to fit so we hung the painting up.  Once on the wall, I didn't like it anymore.  It took about a week of studying to decide what to do.  I felt the values were too flat.  Maybe the photo is too washed out, and I didn't address that since I liked the design of the composition so much. So I started sanding down some areas to repaint.
I sanded and repainted maybe 70%.  I started in the sky, darkening the value of the clouds, and adding the yellow light to create contrast.  Once that was done all the trees needed to be repainted darker.  With darker trees the rocks needed to be darker. Simple stuff really if everything is in layers in Photoshop, but not very simple in oil paint.  I'm happy with the final. I think my mistake was being too influenced by the photo, and not using my imagination enough.  I remember the colors being rich and dark the day we hiked. I lost that in the first attempt.  At one point in the process the rocks looked to be frosted because they were painted without those rich dark's. The next painting I conceived after this, I created about 23 color and value variations before deciding on one and moving forward.

I'm often asked how long does it take to finish a painting. That's difficult to answer. I'm not always sure when a painting is finished.  I plan to work on another painting or 2 based on the photos and what I remember from hiking that day, and also working with what I learned painting this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment