Moving all over the canvas…I adjust the finest details, adjust the shadows and more importantly, the warm sculpting glow of the morning sun on all the objects it touches.
I signed the piece and then mounted it on my desktop Best easel. Then I always move the completed piece into my house from room to room to observe it in different light and time of day. This allows me to make slight adjustments that I may have missed before signing off.
In the end, I decided not to put the lavendar in the foreground corner. I was very pleased with the fencing and the plants would have been in the dark of the oak’s shadow leaving them to be nothing more than clutter.
This was a relatively quick piece with 45 hours. Final value: $2450
I reached for my favorite brushes..numbers 2, 1 and 0. Now comes the reward!
I moved from middle to foreground laying in all the details and modeling all the finest elements.
As I move around the painting, I am also making value changes in darks and lights.
I layed the form layer for the foreground fencing and set the painting aside to dry for the final work…scrumbling and the smallest accents of light and dark.
*As a treat to the owners of this ranch and painting, I engraved their initials in the gate post with my size 0 brush.
It was finally time to lay in the foreground road…
As I needed to protect the foreground fencing, after each layer (3), I would ‘clean’ all the way down to the underpainting on each post and rail.
I worked the details on the oak tree trunk using the darkest values. I mixed burnt umber and burnt sienna for the darkest darks. Then I added a touch of titanium white to accentuate the bark high spots. After this dries, I will come in and accent the finest details with the lightest value, or highlights.
Now I raise my canvas on my Best easel for the standing work. The canopy will require that I move in and out on my feet to keep check on the values and shapes.
I use a fairly large #6 bristle fan brush. I load tons of sap green on one end and ivory black on the other. This allows me to flip the brush from one end to the other quickly while I am shaping the canopy.
While my thick paint is still wet, I come back in with sap green and titanium white in varying mixes to adjust medium values and touch up any ‘see-through-the-tree-to-the-sky’ areas that got lost in my exuberant earlier brush work.
Finally, I mix dioxazine purple, ivory black, sap green and titanium white to lay in the dark, medium and light values of the dying branch on the backside of the tree. This was actually a whole tree between the foreground and background tree, which I removed from my painting. However, my favorite color in this painting was the lavendar of the sunlit dead branches, so I took some artist’s perogative and made it a dying branch of my main oak. Not yet drafted on the canvas…will be some beautiful lavendar flowers in foreground corners in front of the upfront fencing to tie it all in.
I began putting the dark and lightest values in the middle ground.
Then I needed to paint the light green and lavendar leaves that were behind the main oak tree. After they were in, I layed in the darks on the tree.
This will cure over the weekend and then I can start the details on the tree trunk and the canopy of dark leaves overhead. I had to quit for the day as the good light in the studio faded away. (which is why this pic is kinda dark, sorry.)
Next I start working on the middle values.
First is the background. I pull out my number 1 filberts, rounds and flats to put in the shapes.
Working back to front, I move toward the middle ground and then lay in the first layers of the pasture. As I move forward…the brushes get bigger.
After I get the middle and foreground covered, I move back to the background to finish the details. I finished the out-building and fencing there. I can’t start the oak tree canopy, until the background is finished.
Next I put the first coat of paint on the gate and foreground fencing.
I also layed in the first grapevine leaves on the top of the butterfly gate. These strokes were thick and free-spirited. There is already a couple layers of paint on the pasture behind the leaves and since these will be very detailed at the end, I used more of a 3d modeling effect with my brushwork to make them pop out at the viewer.
The painting starts looking a little flat right about now, but that’s ok. In the final stages of painting, I will be putting in the darkest darks and highlights to accent the details and make it come alive!
The underpainting is done and just in time for the weekend. I will let it dry for the next few days before I begin again.
I made sure I was pleased with the distance mountain range and the far edge of the property on the horizon before I quit for the day. These areas must be completed before I can start to work on the middle and foreground. In landscapes, you paint back to front and everything underneath another element first. This is why the fencing and gate will be the last items I work on.
I finally get to enjoy the wonderful smell of my oil paints and feel the brushes in my hands. 😉 I begin the underpainting.
Oak trees are the most amazingly shaped trees on the planet and probably the most fun to paint. It almost looks like I have tried to finish the foreground tree trunk…but no. That is just decades of studying the abstract shapes in the trunk and branches of these majestic trees and utilizing my brush strokes in a way that the very thinned down oil paint pudddles where I want it. As the Turpenoid dries (very quickly), I am able to achieve a sense of form and tiny shapes.
Once the painting progresses, all that you see now in the tree trunk will be covered up with subsequent layers. However this initial modeling with the thin paint helps me to make decisions for later. I am sorting out my final choices in values of light, darks and shapes to see how they will influence the perspective. A process that all artists must constantly be aware of from beginning to end.
Starting a new piece is always exciting, but you can’t get your hands in the paint, until all the compositional details are worked out.
This landscape was more of a portait of a property than anything else, so I had to be true to the elements in the piece. But I did take artist license with illimination of many items on the property that were not vital to Ranchita’s identity and that would ‘clutter’ my composition.
I also struggled a bit as to whether or not I wanted the 3rd horse…and where it should be placed. So as I often do, I made a thumbnail clipping and moved it around the canvas stuck with tape.
In these initial planning stages, I am building a map that I want you to use as your eyes travel around the painting. If you have a poor map, then your viewer’s eyes are going to go left to right, by nature, and then be finished.
To keep their eyes traveling in circles around each piece with gentle stops on my points of interest, I use composition, value changes and lighting. I double-check it in my mirror to fool my own eye and then when I am happy…it’s time to get the brushes out.
Starting a new piece called, Ranchita Arroyo Grande Morning. It will tell a story of one of the most serene places I have ever been to in my life. “The Making Of..” pics will follow soon.