Monday, 12 November 2012


"Skyline" - new photograph, taken in daylight
There's a lovely ridge very near here where the field sweeps up to a horizon that plays host to a number of trees. It's a subject I keep eyeing up from the footpath, and I have a large collection of photographs of it in all seasons. This painting is based on a photograph taken one evening in July, with the wheat almost ripe and the sky ominously laden with cloud.

Previous painting made with the
Williamsburg colours
The colours are, I think, a little unusual. Some of this is undoubtedly down to some tricks played by our home printer (the image on my screen is more muted), but I decided to keep the brighter colours and make use of some of the colours that usually languish, unused, in the box of paints. Particularly the free samples of Williamsburg oils, because those three colours (Yellow Ochre, French Ultramarine and Courbet Green) are dominant in this image.

I started off by painting all of the edges in acrylic. I looked at the upper part of the sky, squirted out some trusty Pthalo Blue, mixed in some white - and decided that it was wrong. Coeruleum Blue was perfect... but I only have that in acrylic. So, most of the bright blue sky is acrylic. (I did mix an approximate analogue in oils with Pthalo and white and a tiny bit of Lemon Yellow, but that was decidedly duskier - which is okay, because the clouds are thicker in the areas that I used that.)

The lower part of the sky screamed "Ultramarine!" at me, so I applied a liberal amount, straight from the (rather small) tube. Ultramarine is a very strong colour, and I ended up scraping quite a lot back off again. A bit of Burnt Umber and some white created the greys.

The clouds are, of course, largely white, with Ultramarine-Umber greys and a smear or two of the Pthalo-Lemon mix here and there.

I used very nearly all of the Williamsburg Yellow Ochre in that field; adding in a bit of Courbet Green made for effective shadows. There's a smidge of white and an even smaller bit of Lemon Yellow in that field, too. The grassy greens to the left were too bright for Courbet, so I used Pthalo and Lemon with white. Courbet, however, makes great hedge-darks, and is the main constituent of the larger vegetation.

in progress: look, no palette!

All of the first session's painting (the results of which are shown above) was done without a palette - I applied the paint directly to the canvas and mixed it on the canvas, where mixing was required. But the additional subtleties required during the second, and final, session, really needed the paint to be mixed before application, so I did use a palette then.

Oil on linen canvas, 14 x 10"

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