20, 21 & 23/11/15
Exercise: Painting a Landscape Outside
When you’ve chosen your location, make a preliminary visit to work out the view you wish to paint and the level that you wish to work at… Make several rapid sketches from different angles… Make colour notes and take photographs… Make notes throughout the whole process – on your preliminary visit(s), during painting and after you’ve finished. Write a commentary (around 500 words) in your learning log reflecting on your experience of painting outdoors and what you’ve learned from it.
After considering options I decided on two locations to visit to make some sketches and work through views, colours and compositions.
The main challenge was the weather, it has been very wet and now has stopped raining but getting much colder, plus the wind is getting stronger. I made notes on colours, sketched flora and fauna around the river bank to assist foreground detail. I tried a simplified outline sketch as there are many roof-lines and buildings but my marker pen gave up. I took many snaps of the general area for reference after sketching.
After about an hour, I returned home and reviewed my sketches – they were fairly inaccurate so decided to make a simplified drawing using both the photographs and my on-site sketch. The cold and low sun made the colours glow and the river sparkle and being there in person gave me a real sense of the place and atmosphere. Although this is a lovely view, I think it too complex to paint outside in winter.
Today the weather is so much better, very cold but bright and sunny although my main challenge is the extremely strong wind which is quite gusty at times.
One thing I noticed, is that a broad scene can be made interesting if I focus on strong tones. The car park scene would not have attracted me if it were not for the strong sunlight intensifying the dark shadows beneath the trees.
The line of trees in the second sketch above caught my eye, again because of the strong shadows, so I zoomed in on one oak in particular in the next one. Whilst out, I also sketched the ponies that are famous in the New Forest.
My experience of painting outdoors was in the main a very cold one! My pre-planning was my saviour, having the paints mixed ready to go and using a small board all ready with neutral ground ensured I could get straight on with it. Luckily, a Monday lunchtime was perfect as there was nobody else around and I could spread my stuff out on the ground. Although it was extremely cold (4 or 5 degrees), I was in a sheltered spot and the wind had dropped completely from the weekend. This all made things easier. I’d
used my sketch as a guide to block in the main dark shapes and place objects in the frame of the board. I tried painting in gloves for a while but strangely that made me try to be too detailed, once I’d taken them off, I speeded up and just tried to get colour and tone down in the right places. I had an extra brush with me (1/4″ flat) which helped cutting in around the branches. The rigger brush was handy, although I didn’t get the impression of the spindly end twigs I really wanted. Generally, I’m quite satisfied with the result, although, the colours may be a little bright – this may be due to the difference between my oil and acrylic paints and how I use them?