Peters Hill, 20×24″ oil on canvas
The above painting (just a quick raking light snapshot image to show some of the technique I’ve been using) is 95% done. As I’ve been talking about process a bit on the blog over the last year, I thought I would continue that here. This is a link to my previous post where I tried to deconstruct the design of one of my favourite Isaak Levitan paintings. Unlike some of my other work, this is a painting that was done 30% outside, 70% in the studio.
Here is the above landscape as I started it outside, nearing the end of two days of work- about three hours the first day and 2 hours on the second day. I spent a long time on the drawing and scale of each of the trees, arranging the design of the picture into a pleasing set of rhythms. I worked to get the painting as true to what I saw in nature, while being somewhat interpretive with the color (the second day was overcast, but I held on to the blue sky and shadow patterns from the first day)
I knew at this point I wouldn’t be able to finish this picture outside. The kids use my central hill as a sledding hill, and the snow was getting pockmarked with all their little footprints- and no more snow on the forecast, as it’s been really, really warm this winter. What’s more, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the overall composition as I drew it outside.
After letting the picture rest for a few days, just to let it dry and to give myself a fresh mental perspective I spent an hour or so drawing on top of it with charcoal and white chalk. I moved trees around, added a cloud, changed the foreground mass, started to turn the trees on the left into birches, and came up with a more unified pattern of light and shade on the snow.
Above was my first pass in oils on my newly studio-ized snowscape. I’d filled in the center-left tree a bit, removed the one next to it, and adjusted a bunch of the big rhythms. Most of the work took place getting me to this point– as you can see, the final image below is nearly identical in design. I then spent many sessions arranging broken color, glazing, and applying short, stiff impastos.
I will probably rework the painting a bit when I get the frame for it (I nearly always do), and will update the image at that point.