Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ON BULL CREEK (to the finish)

Okay, these three steps show you (1) how the painting looked after blocking-in local color values (image2), (2) after I scraped it down (image3), and (3) the finished painting (image1) Again, this is not a plein air painting, and it isn't the way I approach painting outdoors.  This is done in the studio, from a photograph.  This is only one of a number of approaches I use, depending on my objective for the painting.  In this one, I wanted to rather carefully control the drawing, and the notan wash is a great way to to just that.  It gives the opportunity to place the shapes as you designed them, and establish the three main value areas of the design.  
Yesterday, I talked about the limitations of photo reference.  One of the big corrections, here, is to plan the values so you can see into the shadows, and then to tone-down the incredibly high chroma colors in snapshots.  To extend the values, it's necessary to stay within the range of the general value of the shape you're working in.  In other words, avoid placing any values in a given value shape which actually belongs to one of the other value groups.  If you do this, you will retain the design structure of the notan and the painting will have more impact. To adjust the color so as to not be so saturated as the photo reference, I suggest you pick an important color from your focal area, and then key all other colors to relate to its degree of chroma.  Keep in mind that it's usually a good practice to make the chroma in the focal area the most saturated.
Why step #2? This step isn't usually necessary, but I thought you might like to see what I do if I'm not happy about the block-in. Could be I don't like the value or hue relationships, or the paint quality. I take my palette knife (or a dead credit card works great) and scrape off all the paint, right down to the canvas.  Notice how it softens the edges and somewhat darkens the painting.  This makes a very nice underpainting to build your val-hues back onto.  
The finishing phase, is mainly a matter of taking care of edge relationships, adjusting val-hues, and developing the focal area to have the greatest amount of descriptive detail, strongest contrasts, and a bit of calligraphy to add scale and the feeling of focus.  Get this right and it's amazing how little you need to do elsewhere.

©Jimmy Longacre 2014
12X12 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

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