This is the demo I did last night. It uses a very experimental (read) mad process to paint the tree on the left. Lots of splatter. The most interesting aspect of doing this painting was the final little detailing that bring it to life. It’s the last 5% of the painting process that makes such a large difference. These last touches are generally intuitive and therefore difficult to teach. You can show quite clearly how to draw a shape and what kind of wash to put in it but after all that is done a painting usually needs those special finishing touches and we can’t predict what they will be. We have to listen to the painting (which means look at it with fresh eyes) and see what it needs. It can be little dabs here and there, details, adjusting washes etc but this is what brings it to life.
In this painting I did quite a few minor adjustments but the two I would like to talk about are detailing the bridge. I had already added the drybrush to the top of the bridge and a few dark accents. Still I felt that the bridge while it was a nice wash was too uniform and a bit boring. What I did is add some subtle light washes all over the surface. From a distance you can barely see them but you definitely can sense there presence. They make the bridge just look more like a real living structure. The second one is the tree. Again after the demo it was OK but by splattering with a stronger purer cad yellow it became more dramatic. I also added some chinese white to the cad yellow for an even stronger effect.
That last 5% made a large difference.
This painting was not plein air but inspired by a plein air painting. I was at the Okotoks Big Rock Artists fundraiser for the Foothills Country Hospice. This was the house just behind the church where the show was. It’s a beautiful, very large house (only a part of it is pictured) with a large yard including a large fountain. Many cars parked out front. I was told it was owned by a husband wife real estate team. Obviously a very successful team.
On Friday night the light was magnificent. On Saturday when I did a plein air painting the light was good but not magnificent. The plein air painting turned out quite good but it was definitely in the wrong format. The next day I redid it in the long lean format that it seemed to call for. It’s a very accurate take on the scene.
What I’m continuing to learn from this weekend’s painting is to 2 things. The first is the importance of trying to get a fairly solid vision of what you want the painting to look like in your mind before you start. This means identify your centre of interest, your value pattern and also your colour palette. Sounds like a lot and it is but as in every thing in life it’s one step at a time. For me I have these lofty goals and often fall short but each time I get a little closer. The summary of this first point is that I need to do a lot of thinking before I put brush to paper.
The second factor is the absolute importance of value. It’s far more important than colour. I’m reminding myself to squint frequently both at the subject and the painting to identify those value patterns. If I can nail the values then there is a very good chance that the painting will work. I’m feeling increasingly confident as an artist when I do these things.
P.S. The title was my first thought that came to mind when someone told me that it was real estate agents who owned it.
I Should Sell Houses Not Paint Them
25 x 8