Here I will walk you through one of my recent painting of Fraser Island, Australia.
I have painted this scene numerous times from different angles, as it is an important place to me and a great source of inspiration. With that being said, I will need to branch out soon. As you can imagine, it can be a struggle sometimes to find new inspiration and it is easy to fall back on what you enjoy.
I painted this in oils using a very impressionist style. I wanted the colors and strokes to be bold, indicating movement in the sky and sea. The jetty I just wanted to blend slightly into the background - not too much detail and making it a bit sketchy.
So let's get into it.
Step One: Colored Background & Sketch
For the colored background, I used a mix of Payne's Gray and Yellow Ochre with lots of solvent. This is just meant to be a very light wash to simply stain the canvas. Painting on a white canvas is fine but it can be easier to judge values on a colored background.
To apply the background color, I use a large brush and then wipe it down with a rag to spread the color.
The key here is not to use much paint or a color which is too dominant.
Once the colored background is down and pretty much dry, I sketch out the composition very roughly. Usually I would just sketch out the rough objects in the painting, however for this painting it was important the perspective of the jetty was accurate as this could have easily thrown the whole painting.
The jetty utilises a two point perspective, with vanishing points on the horizon in the far right and in around middle of the canvas. I identify the vanishing points with notable dots on the horizon. The lines of the jetty will converge at these vanishing points.
Another technique I used was placing a grid on the canvas and my reference photo. You can then ensure your sketch is generally accurate by breaking your canvas into smaller parts and judging those parts against the reference.
Step 2: Blocking In Shapes
Here I am very roughly trying to block in the dominant shapes of the composition - the jetty, distant clouds and the dark areas in the sea. I also start filling in the sky with a very broken color technique.
This is painted on a larger canvas so the aim was not to blend the colors, but instead allow the colors to optically blend from a distance.
The key at this stage of the painting is making sure everything is dark enough.
Step 3: Bringing It All Together
After blocking in the major shapes in the painting, I can start pulling it all together, adding lighter and more vibrant colors as I go.
With the bright yellows and reds, I wanted to make sure these colors were very pure and not dirtied. To do this I made sure my brush was clean and I only added some white to tint the yellows and reds.
Just above the yellow there is also a hint of a toned green. The purpose of the green was to act as a compliment to the reds in the middle. This helps the red really stand out from the rest of the painting.
Step 4: Final Touches
This part is pretty much just making adjustments here and there as necessary.I added lots of light to the sea which helped accentuate the dark jetty.
The detailing on the jetty is very, very loose. Literally nothing more than a few rough strokes to indicate the presence of a fisherman or pillar.
All up the think it turned out alright. My main criticism of myself would be I was too focused at the start on creating a broken color approach. If I were to paint this again, I would start out with a much larger brush to block in the large shapes in the painting then work from there.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any comments, please add them in the section below.