I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! Ours was great but it sure went fast!!! And isn't it amazing how holidays can interrupt our routines?? Before I get back to my regular posting, I would like to share this demo that I did for my most recent class. This comes to you by special request of one of my readers who asked me to show a little bit about my process. It also includes a lesson about value planes in the landscape...
In Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting by John Carlson (a "must have" for any landscape painter) he talks about the 4 basic value planes in the landscape: Sky (lightest light), ground (second lightest), slants (third lightest), uprights (darkest darks). Above: example of 4 planes in grey tones (this is NOT a part of the actual painting process which starts below).
I begin all paintings with an underdrawing using a dark neutral mixed of alizarin crimson, french ultramarine, and raw umber. At this drawing stage, I establish my composition, block in shapes and lay in my darkest darks. I don't let this get too thick o that I can avoid "mud" when painting back into it.
Next, I lay in large areas of color to each of the "value planes". I try to use an average best for each, paying close attention to the value and temperature relationships between the planes. (Remember, warm advances and cool recedes.) It's important to get these relationships working altogether before adding any major detail. Now is the time to tweak overall values if necessary.
Once the value planes are working, details can be added using intermediate values. As Carlson says, "All intermediate values are subserviant to the main values." This means that shifts within each value plane need to be pretty subtle. At this point I am painting wet paint over and into wet paint. To avoid mud - load your brush, keep a light touch, and lightly wipe brush tip where paint has been picked up. AND, practice, practice, practice!
Of course, nature never leaves anything that simple. Light changes everything, and we still have to closely observe what nature presents. I will say that understanding this basic framework helps me break things down when I am out in the field; and it helps me establish a foundation for capturing whatever the fickle light is up to.