|THE REAL DEAL 12x16 oil on canvas panel|
First step is to come up with a design that has enough positives about it to get me excited about doing the work. In this case, I had the boats from a photo I took while down on the gulf coast. Their coloring was different, but if you get the basic values right you can adapt the color to the design idea. The bait shack was in another photo, so I worked up a sketch to join the two together and create a focal area The convergence of the shrimper and the bait shack. When you do this you need to take care that you don't confuse the perspective, lighting and scale of the different references. It's also a good idea to have spent enough time painting outdoors to have a fair working knowledge of what goes on with natural light, color and atmosphere. When I've made the rough arrangement and considered the cropping, I put together a light and shade pattern that I find visually interesting. Either the light or the shade needs to dominate. In this one, it's the light group of shapes that prevails.
|Compositional Value Pattern, or NOTAN|
As you can see, I don't work on a white surface. This helps me to judge my value relationships as I begin to apply the color notes. I think of white as an extreme highlight, and the toned surface helps me to reserve its punch. I rarely use white straight from the tube. I like to add a bit of color to influence its tint and help it to join more comfortably with the color scheme.
The dark for the drawing is not black, but a mixture that makes a dark neutral, like Permanent Alizarin, or Venetian Red and Ultra Marine Blue. It just seems to keep the darks more lively to have some temperature variation going on rather than a dead black.
|Shadow value color notes|
Often, my next step would be to paint the color notes for the light group of shapes. But in this one the sky and water are going to play a big part in determining how those notes will look. The sky is surprisingly darker in value and far more neutral in hue than we may think. If you paint it to light in value and bright in hue, you have no where to go to make the other colors stand out properly. So, I block them in with my best general approximation of value and hue. Until you've mixed these and seen what happens when all the color relates together, you just can't appreciate how gray they actually are.
I'm always trying to get better at putting down brushstrokes and pretty much leaving them alone as much as possible. It's very easy to overwork the painting when you become overly concerned with the details. I suppose only time doing it will improve the results. Anyway, there it is! One simplified approach to organizing a painting.