OK, I first have to say that I’m longing for autumn, my most favorite season ever! The greatest thing about being an artist is that you never have to follow any rules. Do I have to paint a landscape summer scene just because we are in the middle of summer? Of course not! If I want snow while it’s humid and 90°F, I can just make it myself with a little paint!
Today, I was really missing autumn. The cool breeze, brilliant colors, and crunching of the leaves as you walk on top of them, were some of the things I was daydreaming about. So I went to my photo archives and pulled up a picture that my friend Kurt took last year of a trail at the Little Red Schoolhouse.
The first picture shows my set up at the computer. I made a little (2×3) thumbnail graphite sketch on a piece of paper just to show myself composition and value. Next, I sketched the real thing on a piece of Wallis pastel paper with a 2B pencil.
Next, I painted a watercolor wash under painting and made a big mistake. My colors are way too light and saturated with color. I did not realize this at first, but later became frustrated and questioned my own skills as an artist. You know how it is when things are wrong and you don’t know why…you start asking yourself, “What are you doing? Do you even know how how to paint?” Yeah, it may be a little harsh, but when things don’t turn out they way you expect, you have a tendency to go a little overboard. Well I do at least. When this happens, step back, walk away for 10 minutes and return with the idea that you don’t care if this painting makes it or not, you just want to learn. Sometimes that break gives you “fresh eyes”.
When I returned, I realized my under painting needed to be a lot darker so I laid on the pastels. The whole idea of an under painting is to use minimal pastels. Live and learn.
Next, I blocked in shapes and colors with pastels. My focal point is down the path were the sun is shining through, but look….another mistake! My path looks like a hill and everything is drifting down the right side. How did that happen?!? Working a few inches from the paper, I didn’t see it. Stepping back, it became clear. Make sure when you paint, you step back every 30 minutes or so even though you don’t think you have to!
Here is the final painting. The path is not a hill now, the tree in the foreground is nicely anchored, and shimmering individual autumn leaves are added to the path and tree.
It satisfies my autumn hunger. This painting is 16×20 and titled, Let’s Take a Walk. It will be available on the “landscape” page soon.
Happy 4th of July! Maybe you can find some time on this long holiday weekend to try a painting of your own?