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Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's on the easel?

Well, here it is Spring....and what's on the easel...two snow scenes. Snow scenes are difficult enough to paint well, but especially so when just outside my studio window everything is in full bloom. These paintings are being produced for the 2013 Outreach Health Services calendar for which I have been creating images for the past eleven years. They may also end up in the upcoming Spring Festival, held this May at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio.
Both paintings are in process, but I thought you might find the uncompleted stage interesting.

18"x 18"  -  Oil on canvas

I haven't decided on a title for either of these paintings as yet. Any suggestions?
For the painting above, the middle ground tree is next on the list to be fully developed while the foreground and background will receive further refinements. Indian Red has been added to the palette. It's a bluish red, opaque, and absolutely permanent. It's not as intense as the alizarin crimson I generally use and therefore seems more appropriate for landscape painting, being more earthy and natural in appearance.

White, Ultramarine Blue, Indian Red, Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Chromatic Black

The major color and value mixtures found in the snow...from lightest light to  darkest dark

I am asked by students, from time to time, "How do you paint trees? How do you paint skies? How do you paint water? How do you paint snow?" To sum up, the question is really, "How do you paint...things?" The young, untrained artist has a tendency to paint what they "know"...skies are blue, trees are green, snow and clouds are white. Therefore, you might be surprised by the colors shown above that indicate snow, yet in the painting context, they indeed become snow.

The difficulty for any painter is moving beyond the idea of painting "things", and beginning to think in terms of creating accurate drawing, value and color. Drawing (perspective, proportion, and shape) is important because it gives the sense of scale and space to your subject on a two dimensional surface. Correct value is important because through the convincing use of light to dark shapes, and soft to hard edges, the artist can create a convincing atmosphere and mood. Finally, if the hue, intensity, and temperature of the color is accurate...wa-la...the trees, skies, water, and snow will all look perfectly convincing.
Ignore these important points and the work will always remain amateurish. 

The photo below is actually the reference for the second painting. Pretty ridiculous, I know. How can anyone expect to create a winter scene from a summer photograph? Well, hopefully I can. It all goes back to what was said above.

Color study  -  4.5"x 4.5"

Raw Umber brush drawing and block-in

14"x 14"  -  Oil on canvas

This painting has a long way to go. The sky is close to completion, but I'm now reconsidering the prominence and placement of the sun. It's probably too high in the sky for the time of day and value (darkness) of the sky. Background was painted first and allowed to dry. This allows flexibility in placement of trees and creating the appropriate edges. If I don't like what I've done, I can wipe it out without ruining the sky.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your process. I love your study! I always enjoy getting your newsletters and have learned so much from you. Thank you for all you do:-)

April 7, 2012 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger john pototschnik said...

I'm pleased you find it all useful, T.J. I am happy to do it.

April 8, 2012 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Treena Rowan said...

Your paintings are inspirational for me. I go through my landscape photos and begin a painting whenever I read your blog/newsletter.

May 7, 2012 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger john pototschnik said...

Thanks, Treena. I'm pleased to be of some help in stimulating creativity. Keep after it.

May 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM  

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