Painting Review: The Evolution Of My Clark Park, Sydney painting
I find it interesting looking back through through progression shots of my paintings. In these progress shots you can often see times when I am not sure where I am going with the painting. I will go back and forth with different colors and techniques until I am back on track.
If you are starting out in painting it is extremely important that you take progress shots of your artworks. It always you to go back and review your painting process, remind of the challenges you faced and see how you handled them.
In my recent painting, Clark Park, Sydney, you can see a pretty interesting evolution in the painting as I test and experiment.
Here is my reference photo which I based the painting on:
I just wanted this to be a simple painting, emphasising the nice bright light hitting the ground behind the tree. I was also feeling a bit tight in my previous paintings so I really wanted to just loosen up and paint rough and free.
To start, I take a very large, flat brush to apply a thin undercoat of paint. I am not focused much on the actual colors I am using, but rather the general shapes and values (how dark or light something is). One key point of this stage is to identify the darkest and lightest areas in your painting. Once you have done this, you then have a range you can work between for the rest of your painting.
In this part I outline the edges of the trees and other objects in the distance by painting in the exposed parts of the sky. This is different to what most artists do where they would paint the sky and then any trees or other objects on top of that. I used to paint the farthest elements of the painting first and then work my way forward, but recently I have been experimenting with the opposite, painting the closest objects first and then working my way back. You should try it yourself and see how it feel. One benefit of doing this is you spend more effort at the start of your painting on the closer, more focused parts and then as you recede into the background of your painting you can be more fluent with your technique.
The next few stages of the painting are where it gets interesting. I am not entirely certain on the direction of the painting during this time and you can see I am doing a lot of testing and experimenting with techniques and colors. I keep the brush very large and start incorporating palette knifes. At no point in this painting do I pull out the more delicate brushes.
Tip: If you are painting in a free and bold style, it can seem awkward if you start adding very fine detail with liner brushes at the end of the painting. Whilst I do always say variation is key in painting, it is also important to have a sense of consistency across your painting. If you have a very loose painting, then instead of adding more detail with the very fine liner brushes, try adding detail with the larger brushes. This will allow you to add more detail whilst keeping a sense of consistency.
Now at this stage I am thinking I have the general layout all set, but I wanted a bit more ‘pop’. I start applying bright yellows in a very impasto fashion around the highlighted areas. I also felt like I wanted a bit more color variation, so I added some orange to the tree.
Another technique which I started using in this painting is to have numerous colors on the same brush to create wonderful varied color strokes. This worked nicely with the trees and grass.
I basically keep working around the painting until I am satisfied. I judge it by feeling as to when I think the painting is finished. I will leave it on the easel throughout the day and keep viewing it from different angles. More often than not I will spot something I want to change and will start painting again. Once I have gone a certain period of time without feeling need to make adjustments, then I feel like the painting is finished.