I've been asked to do another step-by-step. I'm going to break this one down, over the next
few days. This particular approach is not a plein air procedure. Instead, I'm going to show you one of the ways I work in the studio, from a photograph. It's also useful when the structural complexity of the subject needs more control. Take a look at the reference photo, below. A painter attempting to interpret this scene is going to have a big problem, unless they've had a good bit of experience painting out doors and learning how things actually appear. Cameras can't give a natural rendering of light and shade, and the color is way off the map. The red square surrounds the area I'm interested in painting. Selection and focal emphasis are very important to your interpretation. My focus will be the little waterfall. I'm not interested in just reporting on whatever I can see in the photo. It's my job to use the information
available for my design. You'll see how I edit, simplify and move things around a bit as the steps develop. First I do a very quick 3-value notan to consider the basic structure for my painting. When I'm outdoors I do this little painting in my sketchbook with a mid-gray and dark-gray marker, about 3"x3". In the studio, at times I will do it in Photoshop. Very easy to re-arrange and try-out different ideas. The object is to invent a strong and interesting design that evokes the subject in three values. It's fun, and it's a very powerful tool for beginning a solid interpretation. If you can't get it to work at this stage, it's not going to get
better later. Then, I roughly transfer the notan to my canvas by covering it with a mid-value, transparent scrub-in over my pencil sketch which I have sprayed with workable fixative. I wipe out the light shapes with a rag, and add the dark shapes with more paint. You can see that I start to indicate a bit of definition within the shadow areas. Everything is left very rough at this stage. Just enough to separate the three value groups, and pique my imagination. Next, I'll show you how I begin to block-in color on top of this foundation.