This is my latest studio memory piece. My plan is do 2 more pieces in this 24x24 format of the same meadow area with different moods and light. I am using my little 6"x6"pieces I did for the 6" Squared Exhibition in California. I've got those 3 pieces posted below and they are currently somewhere between here and there on their way to the show, I'd like to be going with my little paintings!
But, oh well. . . . :)
When starting this piece, I had every good intention of photographing the process in it's important developing stages, but once really getting in to the painting I was so zoned that I forgot to keep up the shooting of this piece. So here's what I had!
When I'm beginning a painting, either small or larger, I'm always thinking of the placement of the large abstract shapes that will construct the composition. Believe me, I LOVE this tree and all it's character but I'm seeing and thinking of it's shape and the fact that it is a form. Same goes with the background mass of trees and the meadow area. I paint landscape because of my love for it but I don't get caught up in the little details of it's complexity. I believe in painting with great reservation to show these beautiful little exceptions at the end of the piece. (such as the flowers in this piece) The tiny notes of purity in the end of a painting are what people and comment on see but it's the underlying structure of these shapes that gives a painting it's 'bones'.
So, that's what I was thinking at this stage. Starting with my shapes of darks and working the lines of the composition. I usually start with a wash of some sort. I probably used a transparent oxide red in this one. . . ?
At this stage I'm pretty happy with the feel and composition so I start to work the form by developing what is going on within the big shapes.
I begin to 'work up' or 'build up' the paint a bit. I always start my painting pretty thin and 'work up' the paint, meaning start to work a bit thicker as the painting develops. If I work too thick in the beginning stages of a painting, I can completely lose it! I think paint quality has a lot to do with paint consistency. I don't usually use any mediums, for the most part anyway, but I do use mineral spirits to thin my paint and get the consistency I like. Paint consistency is very personal and it's difficult for anyone to tell a student painter exactly how their paint should feel to them but I do think you have to paint a LOT before you know what works best for you. I'm always exploring this as I work, and really it's feeling of the paint under the brush that I crave the most about painting.
As you can see here I start adding some color in the foreground grasses. But it was not until the very end stages of the painting that I even thought about adding the bits of colors in the flowers.
A note about painting grasses: it's important to search for and find the shapes, even in a subject (like grasses in a meadow) that provides a less than obvious structure, and contains much more of a subtle separation of lights and darks. Connect your lights and connect your darks to begin. Realize that under all the lush color is the warmth of the earth that vibrates through on a very subtle level. Build from there and even in the most busy field of wild flowers, nature gracefully connects these dancing notes of color. It's up to us as artists to find the connection and sweep of these notes to serve the area as a one unified and cohesive statement, the whole.
"Harmony Of The Meadow"
24x24 oil on linen panel