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"Plein Air Oil on the Shores of Lake Superior"
Page 3 of 5

Author: Larry_Seiler, Contributing Editor

I mixed a couple darks from alizarin and phtalo blue, as well as alizarin and permanent green...to now begin to define the shapes of the rocks; taking advantage of the dark crevices between as a visual guide. I loosely define some of the branches, determine where a few of the major tree trunks will be.

Then I block in a bit of the color of the sky to act as a comparison refrence to determine the richness of color I will apply to my subject. My own rule being that darkest darks, lightest lights, purest color, greatest detail will be reserved for the subject and downplayed elsewhere.

I even dab in a bit of the water's color using the palette knife, being careful never to get caught stuck in one area of the painting. Never work from one corner of a painting down, finishing as you go. You want unity in your painting by establishing a color rythym, and jumping around to give constant attention throughout helps to assure that happens!

One further caution is not to get caught going to too small of brushes too early. Use always the largest brush you can get away with, and experience will teach you what they are.

You can see here how I have now painted in rough pine bough shapes, applied strokes of color to rocks, given thought to where light is striking the rocks, and gave further work to the water.

In addition, I have given careful consideration of reflecting color, and you will note here the blue hues on the far left rock edges that reflect light off the water and sky, for example.

This shows a closeup of one of the rock structures being built up with thick brushstrokes. I am looking for planes within the rock that reflect light and color revealing surrounding light, influences, the rock's local color, etc;

You can see some of the original ragged-in color coming thru, some of which I leave. My aim is to abide by a rule which I think leads one to developing a particular mastery. That is- "a brushstroke laid, is a brushstroke stayed." This requires much control, a good eye, accurate reading of color, and a bit of boldness!

I'm fairly confident that my initial laying in of the turps wash block-in or underpainting...provides sufficient grace or leniency that gives me confidence to apply bolder thick strokes of paint.

Now I begin to become more serious at working toward a finished sky.

Unlike many painters, I never paint the sky in first, as I use my sky to cleverly suggest trees. Many painters attempt to paint trees by focusing on trunks, limbs, and foilage and requires them nearly to become experts in tree anatomy and tree species. I find that by trusting my aesthetic senses to find negative space such as the shape of the sky poking thru a particular branch, and concern myself only with dabbing in that shape over a blocked-in mass, it suddenly takes on the character of a tree with little effort.

I'll use negative space such as sun glowing foilage, to likewise define nearer trees in shadow.

About an hour has past now, and you can see that the sun has moved. Shadows of ever present looming overhead trees in the north midwest have encroached. Note how the scene has changed, and why developing a quick order of laying down the initial impression of the "ah-Hah!" is so important!
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