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StudioSense: Preparing a New Painting

Working on my Breezy Point series early this morning. Here is the reference photo, which depicts the Breezy Point lighthouse on the bay side of this beach community in New York.

Here is the initial sketch. Notice that I grid the paper into thirds and placed the key portions of the scene in strategic spots related to the "thirds" rule (just to avoid placing key objects such as the horizon at the half-way point on the paper. I also cropped the scene a bit, reducing the expanse of the large hill in the background.

This was a drab day at the beach. So I will spruce up both the values and the colors. I recall a long time ago, my Grandmother Louise would say "Bobby, your paintings are so dark!" I can hear her voice coaching me on as I create "lighter" works of art!

On an overcast day, the sky will be lighter than the flat surface of the ground. On a sunny day, the sky will be darker than the flat ground. The reason I mention "flat surface," is because the values of the upright shrubs and trees will be darker than their corresponding flat ground.

Below is my values schematic. You can see a range of values noted (except for the sky). That suggests the increase in value (lightening-up) from the photo to the painting. For example, the grassy hill in the photo appears to be a 3 on the value scale, however I will kick that up to a 6. Remember, reference photos show darker shade and lighter (often washed-out) skies.

I will move the sand up from a 7 to 8. Since the value increases are not consistent (3 points in the hill and 1 point in the sand) I will need to test the reality of the painting just to be sure!

The first task is to block in the sky. Here are a few images of that process:

I take a hard light pink pastel and work on blending the colors in the sky. Then I apply my finger with a rubber glove tip to blend further. The rubber tip avoids getting oils form my skin on the pastel, which would darken the lights a bit.

Here's the blended sky. Notice, compared to the reference photo, that I kicked up the colors in the overcast sky. More purple and pink rather than that drab gray.

Next, I blocked in the values and colors, with more detail to be added later. Notice that I added some sunlight. Use photos as your reference, not the blueprint of your paintings. Here's the current version:

Check back with this blog for the finished painting. It will be displayed on the Breezy Point page of the website and for sale on Etsy. Click here for our Etsy storefront.

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