Tuesday, July 24, 2012


HILL COUNTRY PASTURE     16x20    oil on linen
This was a delight to paint from beginning to end, and I had high expectations for a decent finish through the whole process.  One of the surest ways to help insure a successful painting is to have a solid plan before you begin.

There's a world of stuff out there competing for attention, but we need to simplify things down to a working plan.  In general, if you will design the scene before you into no more than three to five major shapes and arrange for a clear, well placed focal area the painting will have a better than average chance of being successful.

I've posterized this tonal version of my painting, and drawn lines around each major puzzle piece, to illustrate what I mean.  I've designed the sky, hillside, mid-ground trees, and foreground plane into four simple major shapes, and assigned them each an average value.  If you will stay close to the average value of each shape as you make your color choices, you can avoid chopping up your design and causing a "power failure".  It's the big simple shapes and values that usually make a painting strong.

Then, making a good decision about what and where the focus of the  painting will be just about insures that you'll come out on top.  Think about placing your focal area somewhere other than the dead center, or against one of the four boundaries.  Someplace, that is a different distance to each boundary is just one good guiding principle.  Draw attention to your focal area by using the greatest contrast of values, color, detail, texture, shape, hardest edges.  Whether you're painting outdoors, or in the studio, If you'll give consideration to these few things before beginning to paint, you're likely to have a lot more fun, and you'll better your odds of painting a winner.

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