Working in the studio each day, I come across adjustments to work-in-progress paintings that I like to share with my pastel enthusiast audience. Hence this inaugural edition of "StudioSense."
Here is the current version of "Wind Chill." Followers of this blog have seen this painting before; it is a large 21x27 piece on Uart sanded paper, with a lot going on! What initially caught my attention to this scene on Lake Huron was the sky. It was quite ominous in the reference photo and in real life, and more ominous as part of a landscape painting. Besides drawing the viewer's attention to snow squalls (right half of sky), I added some foreboding developments on the horizon (left half) which suggests some atmospheric drama to come.
With the foreground rocks, I want to establish a feeling that the viewing can grab and pickup a stone (although the nearest foreground is comprised of heavy boulders). With the various squalls in the area, I decided to "fog-out" the lower right side of the scene, indicating iciness on this chilly November day in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The fog impact was created by applying a grey pastel pencil horizontally across the painted scenery.
As I study rocks and boulders, it becomes evident the great variety of blemishes, crevices, color, nooks and crannies that emerge from a careful study of their character. A variety of colors in the same value are handy to convey depth and richness in this part of the landscape.
I have tried to build compositions in the patterns in the sky, water (and its various reflections) and the foreground lighting. To keep the viewer engaged in the scene, I have created several circular patterns. One such pattern can be seen from the brightest streak of light in the sky, enveloping the three pine tree peaks, continuing down to the foliage and beach of the large tree line across the inlet, crossing the water, bouncing across the tops of the boulders in the foreground and back up again on the left in a semi-circle up to the brightest spot on the water's horizon. This was my imagination at work, not representative of the reference photo.
Further refinements of this painting will continue to enhance these eclectic atmospheric impacts. I must say I am having fun painting this scene. More work to do on this one. The painting is well past the point whereby I give up looking at the reference photo and let my imagination run wild.
"Cross-Country Craving" is another ski painting done from inspiration at Rolling Hills County Park in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was a brilliant sunny day and the bold blue shadows in the snow were absolutely vibrant.
Since my last blog on this work-in-progress, I have filled-in the snowscape, and added further details to the burnt orange brush.
I feel that the basic values of the painting (lights and darks) are in place. I will add color (there are plenty of pinks, purples and blues visible in a snowy landscape). One such color to add is a light orange to convey the glow of the snow, and also to capture the reflection of the orange brush in the snow.
When I composed this landscape, I divided the canvas in thirds. Note that the barn is situated in the first third vertically (from the left). the barn sits horizontally in the top third "latitude" of the canvas. One can argue that the main track splits the painting at the half-way point, but that is compensated for by the outside tracks converging from unequal distances from the vertical edges of the painting.
Careful placement of the subject matter will keep the viewer engaged and focused on the topic of interest. I highly recommend Edgar Payne and his book The Composition of Outdoor Painting as well as Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting.
I also plan to soften up the distant planes in this painting, muting the background treeline and varying the sharpness of the different horizontal levels of foliage across the snowscape. Similar impacts (especially the muted distance) can be seen in my painting "Ski Tracks," yet another reminiscence of cross-country skiing (see painting below).
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