This is a 5×7 oil painting of a point outside Juneau, AK. When I took this photo, I just loved how the blue reflection on the shady parts of the rock seemed so blue and complemented to bright, vivid green of the grassy knoll. But when I started this picture I was really intending to practice my skies. I have trouble keeping them light enough, and I’d like to be able to get better blues into them. So on this one I was trying to use some Cerulean Blue…I usually use Pthalo. I used both here, starting with Cerulean near the mountain peaks and gradually going to Pthalo as the sky got higher. this is not how my photo looked, but I was happy with it. After the sky was done I figured I’d just add the rest…and here it is. I think I will try to do some quick practice though of mainly skies. Because I started with the sky I ended up running out of the proper proportion of water at the bottom. I think this would be much more pleasing to the eye if it had a couple more inches of water, but there’s always next time.
This is the valley in Juneau where I live. It is the main road that goes to the glacier. In the summertime there is a constant stream of tour buses that run from the cruise ships downtown out to the Mendenhall Glacier. This is the road they take. On a clear day, when you get to this point it can be so beautiful that it makes your heart leap! Tourists must have their jaws drop as they approach. It is about 4 miles from this point but you cannot wait to get there to see it when you are given this glimpse beforehand. I have also painted this a couple times trying to get the values just right. The mountain is difficult to get just right. It seems darker than you have to paint it in order to put it into the distance. I’m learning ( =
This is an 8×10 oil painting done from a photo I took down in Cohassette, MA while visiting my parents. On this particular day it was misty and overcast. I wanted to try painting this because of those weather conditions. It is very different to paint bright sunny day as opposed to a gray overcast day. It takes practice to see things in different light. I think that this is why I like to paint. I like the challenge of portraying the certain feeling a scene takes on in different lighting conditions. I really spend a lot of time observing the changes in light and shadow as well as colors under different conditions. It is really amazing to me.
I have been wanting to do this for a while. I liked it because I tried something new and used a gray-blue toned canvas, to help with the gray mood of this day. Juneau is very rainy, so this mood is very typical. Something about that, as well as the conglomeration of buildings and objects made me want to paint this scene. I am definitely drawn more to a strong, sunny scene, but I would like to be able to capture different types of weather and light conditions.
This will be my final example for now of how useful a more detailed Underpainting can be. This is another wooded scene where my trees could easily have all gotten lost or run together as I went along. By having my Underpainting sort of map out my values, it was much easier to keep track of where my trees were separated. This also was helpful for me to see whrere it was important to perhaps place a darker tree next to a lighter one in order to distinguish it or make it more focal. It really is nice to be able to play around with your composition and value at this point before you have invested too much time. For me, it is invaluable when the painting has much detail.
I thought I would show another example of an Underpainting, because when I first started painting I couldn’t get enough information about the different ways that people choose to paint. I enjoy seeing how other people paint…it gives me ideas and may lead to better things. It’s good for us to know that there is not just one way to do things. Rather there are a vast number of ways to do the same thing! I think this is very helpful to know. Actually, I think this little painting is the very first time that I tried doing an Underpainting. You can see just how much detail I included in the early stages.
I’m sure this may be old news to many people, but I can remember how fascinated that I was with it early on. So I wanted to do a few posts to show any beginners how they might try it.
This is an example of a two tone Underpainting where it was extremely necessary. I felt like there would be no way for me to keep track of my distant trees without a basic guide layer down first. This gave me a clear idea of my values before I started and also acted like a map for me to keep from having my trees get lost in the forest (so to speak). You can see that an Underpainting can be quite vague or extremely detailed. It is very interesting to play around with.
I am actually quite taken with this little painting. There is something very pleasing about its simplicity. To try a painting using just one color is a great process for beginners. I even think that this practice is helpful for more advanced painters. This is useful In many ways… like helping one to recognize the values in the painting. After doing this you could more easily adjust your values to emphasize different areas of interest or intensity. This can also help one to see the unnecessary details of their subject. This is also good practice for how one might do an underpainting of their subject. Many artists will do a complete, thinned down, two tone painting like this before they add their color. That way they can concentrate on adding color without thinking about the value as well. This is often helpful when the subject matter has a lot of detail. But this is not a necessity, just a matter of preference. I have done some of these underpaintings and found them very helpful. But there are many times that I just want to be more spontaneous.
(as a side note, this post should have come before the last one) I would be interested to hear about anyone else’s experience with this process as well.
This is one example of how I used the underpainting process. The detail in this particular picture probably didn’t warrant the need but I was still experimenting with it at this point. But you can clearly see how helpful it is to see the value in a two toned painting. And I must say again, that at this stage, it is really easy to adjust something that may look a bit off. This layer of paint should be very loose and thinned down with turp or mineral spirits. You don’t need to add white to your burnt sienna, you just thin it down a bit more. It is also very easy to wipe something off and redo it. If nothing else, I find this quite fun to play around with because you can move the paint so easily.
This is my second painting on gesso board. I also used a pallet knife. I deliberately kept this loose. These low tide scenes where you can see beach forever always appeal to me. So I just thought I would do something a bit different. You can probably see that I don’t have one favorite subject yet. I am enjoying the learning process and trying all types of subjects as well as different light.