Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Castle painting update - landscape completely blocked in

It's almost as hard to get a photo as it is to paint this piece, but it's close enough to give you an idea of how the painting works together now. The problem is that the camera will exaggerate the reds and downplay the yellows. When I bring up the yellows the red is way too intense and I then have to tone it down. So the trees lose a bit of that true orangish look and become a touch browner. The other issue is that after adjusting colors I have to sharpen the image and it sharpens the edge of the mid-ground trees way too much. So if you click on this photo to see the larger image, get up and step about 4 feet away from the screen and then you should see it pretty close to the real effect. 

I don't even know where to begin on explaining what I've done in the last two sessions. Yesterday I laid in the back hill on your right and put the mist cloud in at the end, it is a dusky pink and white mix...the pink looks a bit magenta in this photo, but in real life its a lovely lavender gray, because the green under the pink adds a touch of blueness to it.

Today I was bound and determined to get that lower right corner done. I had a heck of a time getting the colors I wanted, both in the rust and bright greens. There is so much going on there that it just started to look overworked, so I wiped it all down and started over. 

When I laid in the new base I started dabbing in the darks...and suddenly felt like Vincent Van Gogh was looking over my shoulder. For the first time I actually got his vision through a painter's eyes, all those dabs became details that weren't actually details...sort of pointillism but instead of merging to become one thing they separated into a mass of things in a single group...kind of hard to explain, sorry! It was very cool looking though.

Sadly, I couldn't leave it like that, as it wouldn't flow with the rest of the painting, so softened it out by whisking a soft brush over it, only a tiny hint of it is there, if you look for it up close. Then I became one of those mad frenetic painters...I just started throwing yellow citron color dabs in there in general shapes and directions of the detailed tangle in the reference. Then I did the same thing with the darks. I thought it would never work, but when the mad inspiration ended, I sat back and said wow. 

Understand that it's a really a mess of brush strokes...totally and completely abstract, not one actual leaf was painted. When you stand close everything looks undefined and a bit fuzzy, like when a photo is slightly out of focus except for the subject. But this is a good thing, because when you sit down on the couch and look over at the wall it looks like the most perfectly detailed forest ever painted, because the eye is reading the mass instead of details and I think that's how we actually see a forest in real life. Again, if you're looking at it up close you're not going to get that effect, but stand back and it just all works...if I sound amazed it is because I am, this is the first time I've come to understand how it works. session wasn't done. All that yellow green threw off the colors in the castle. Suddenly it was looking way too pink. So I took some yellow ochre and glazed over all the buildings. I took a light blue and toned down the blacks and the whites in several key areas to make the figure on the bike stand out more. I dabbed in some burnt sienna accents here and there and then knocked it back with a little green. 

What I especially like about this composition is that the road leads the eye to the castle, but because the wall on the right curves and disappears it allows the eye to travel up and around the castle too and it ends back at the figure. I was taught that an eye needs to be able to move around the painting in the direction the painter dictates for the painting to work as a whole. So far it seems to be working.

Now I'm really excited...I get to do the balconies and rooftops and then finally the sky. This will be the most fun part because it will pull the whole castle together and the sky will soften the furthest stand of trees to give more distance plus soften the rooflines of the castle...can't wait to see it!


  1. Look at this....and look at all that detail work. You have patience!!!! Wow. It will be fun to watch the progress.

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog and I've inched forward into the blogosphere, adding a reader feed. Just needed the nudge - wink!

  2. thanks, Gale :) And better be careful...that blogosphere is endless! (fun that is teehee)


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