View Full Version : A Painting A DayÖ

T Porter
03-31-2013, 12:02 AM
That was my self-imposed challenge, to paint a painting a day. HA! Easier said than done.

I returned to painting in the summer of 2010 with the goal of learning to paint landscapes. Landscapes have always frustrated me to the point of intimidation, but I am determined to learn the ďsecretsĒ to simplifying the forms of the landscape and to be able to paint proficiently with the intensions of eventually painting in plein air.

Iíve tried plein air painting once and it was humbling. What to put in the painting? What to leave out? Oh yeah, thereís a clock to race against too, that damn sun doesnít stay still! Thereís a lot to grasp to be able to do plein air painting successfully and being able to simplify the landscape, paint quickly and being confident in the strokes that are applied to the support appear to be the major components. So I figured one of the best things I could do was to try and paint a painting a day to try and strengthen the three criteria that I think are important. While I didnít hit the mark of a painting a day, I was able to end this month with 11 new paintings and Iím pleased to have accomplished that many.

Here is my first attempt at painting a landscape in 2010. It is a picture that Paula Ford took and then posted for the July 2010 Spotlight ďSummer treesĒ. It was a simple painting, kind of crude but I was pleased that I had made a large mass somewhat appear to look like trees.

9.75Ē x 12.75Ē on Cream colored Canson paper

Rembrandt, and Nupastel


T Porter
03-31-2013, 12:50 AM
Iíve bought every book I can find that I think might help me in my quest. Books about composition, landscape books and every pastel book I can get my hands on. I been to a workshop hosted by Dakota Pastel and taught by Teresa Saia, which was probably the most helpful think I could have done. She is an amazing artist and a great instructor.

Anyway, I prepared 12 boards for painting. I cut them all to 10.5Ē x 13.5Ē so that I could get four boards from a single 21Ē x 27Ē sheet of paper. I figured if Iím going to paint one painting a day I better keep the size of the painting fairly small and if I screw up I wonít be wasting a lot of material. All of the paper used for these paintings in Uart 320, except for one and itís Art 280. The pastels used for these paintings are a mix of:

Rembrandt (I have to look the spelling of this up every time)
Mount Vision
Great American
Dick Blick

All of the paintings are done from photographs.

Iím calling the supports a board because over the summer I came across a 24Ē x 36Ē mechanical dry mount press that I just couldnít pass up. So now I have a way to dry mount all of my paintings!:thumbsup:

Here is the first painting in the series from this month. This is a painting of a sunflower field that had late summer second growth. The photo was taken in a conservation area where the sunflowers had already been cut and the green rows are volunteer seeds that are sprouting.


03-31-2013, 12:55 AM
I would say that you have come a long way in your quest. This is a successful painting. You have captured the light well and the trees look great, there is nice depth and the cut rows lead your eye. Very nice.

T Porter
03-31-2013, 01:26 AM
Big change from the first painting of 2010 huh? Thanks to the Spotlight forum and the work that Don puts into those threads I have had a way to challenge myself from time to time. If you havenít tried the spotlight lessons you should.

I titled the above picture Sunflower Sprouts at Platte Falls. Pretty creative arenít I?

I think that painting took about two days to paint. Not working eight hours straight on it, but breaking it up. I also keep kind of weird hours, I seem to be very productive between 7pm Ė 2am. That will obviously have to change if Iím going to paint plein air, unless I only plan to paint night scenes. Ha!

This next painting is of a small aspen grove that I saw along the side of the road in New Mexico. I traveled to New Mexico to attend the Artistsí Material Expo last September. To be honest it was a waste of time and money. Maybe not if you live near by but for me it was a 14 hour trip, hotel fees and all the other expenses that come with traveling and I walked away with nothing really. I signed up for some of the classes that were offered and wound up going to only half of them because they were so poorly done. So if youíre think about traveling to this event some time I would suggest you save your money and go to a real multi day workshop.


03-31-2013, 01:34 AM
beautiful! love seeing the progress

T Porter
03-31-2013, 01:56 AM
Thanks for the compliments

The aspen grouping is a more intimate landscape. I liked the way the light filtered through the trees, thatís what made me stop and take the picture. I chose to paint this picture because it looked intimidating with all the lights and shadows and the multitude of branches and twigs and the wall of green behind the aspens. This painting gave me some good experience with trying to simplify a scene.

One of the best painters Iíve seen paint trees is Sergei Oussik. His work is phenomenal. He was shown in the August/September issue of International Artist Magazine. He is truly an amazing painter.

I probably had that painting on my easel for a couple of days trys to figure out how to put this painting together. Itís not the quality of Oussikís work but I am pleased with it.

After the aspens came the painting of the slip rock field.

I took the picture that this painting is base off of in the mountains of Utah. A buddy and I were elk hunting and the scene of him crossing the slip rock field was, in my opinion, picture perfect.

Of coarse the majority of this scene is the slip rock field so the goal was to paint the rocks as accurate as possible, but I also wanted to try and push the colors in the sky and trees to try and make the viewer eye move around the painting. To be honest, I think this is one of the weakest of the 11 paintings.


T Porter
03-31-2013, 02:29 AM
My wife doesnít care for the slip rock painting. She calls in the Sasquatch painting. Ha!

The rocks in the slip rock painting are weak in my opinion and the figure isnít that great either. I may have to try this painting again some day. To create the rocks I used 3 or 4 different colors (I donít really remember) and started making random marks with the broadside of the pastel. Once I filled the area of the slip rock field with color I began using highlights and shadows (a dark and a light value pastel) to emphasize the tops and bottoms of the rocks. Then I used lines to help define the rockís edges.

Following the slip rock painting is a marsh scene. This painting was also taken from a photograph of an area in the Platte Falls Conservation Area.

This is another painting where I tried to push the colors in the painting to try and make the scene more interesting. One of the things that I picked up from Teresa Saia while in her workshop is the way she uses color. She is a colorist and instinctually brings color into a painting that the photo doesnít show and the colors she uses will make the paintings pop. For this painting I was trying to get out of my comfort zone and incorporate some of her tactics. The original photo is pretty bland, but I think the color punch that I added made the painting a lot more interesting.


T Porter
03-31-2013, 02:46 AM
The foreground of the Marsh painting is weak in my opinion, but I wasnít sure how to handle it so I just made it fade to dark. I felt the closer I got to the viewer the more detail I should have added to the vegetation, but Iím not sure how to add detail to a mass clump of greenery so I guess I wussed out. Ha!

Anyway, the Marsh painting was my first water painting and I think the water and the reflections turned out rather well for a rookie.

Next up is a scene provided in the Landscape Challenge in the Landscape Forum. I picked it because it looked challenging. There is a lot of depth in this painting and a lot of different kinds of foliage to distinguish and separate from other types of foliage. This is a painting of the Snake River.


T Porter
03-31-2013, 03:20 AM
For the most part Iím pleased with the Snake River painting. Although I think the horizon line for the river should have been lower. I struggled with the water and I brushed it out of the painting several times because it appeared to me like the water was about to pour out of the painting. In the Snake River Painting I got to use the Ludwig darks and they are GREAT! Also if youíre looking for some good darks check out the Mount Vision ďdark earthĒ. They are very useful too.

The Snake River was the first painting where I painted dead trees that stood in a dominant position within the painting. To make the dead trees appear to be more than harsh (bold) sticks, there was a lot of pushing and pulling of the sky and the treeís trunks into one another. Iím not sure I explained that very well, but basically I had to pull the sky color into the treeís trunk to give the illusion of distance and a bright sky.

I also tried to do a Richard Mckinley style of painting in the foreground but Iím not sure that was accomplished.

By the way, I should add that all of these paintings have an alcohol wash under painting.

The next painting also came from the Landscape Forumís, Landscape Challenge. It depicts the lowlands around the Tetons. I am very pleased with the way the water turned out in this painting.


T Porter
03-31-2013, 04:12 AM
The lowland painting also has a lot of depth into the painting and I love the way the reflections turned out on the water. Teresa Saia demonstrated for her class how to paint water and it was amazing how her painting instantly changed to water with just a few strokes. It was pretty cool. The whole class made a gasp noise at the moment the painting took on the look of water. You would have to see it to understand what Iím trying to describe but trust me it was cool!

I also watched a Bob Rohm video on painting calm water right before I started this painting and it too was very helpful. The photo used for the lowland painting has a lot more detail in the water but I was afraid I would screw something up so I thought it would be best not to push my luck. Here again I think the foreground is weak but I left it as is because I didnít want to go past the point of no return and ruin the painting.

After the lowland painting I took on the most difficult painting of all of them, in my opinion. This paint is from a picture that I took. It is a shed next to an archery clubís archery range. The picture was taken around midday so the light was really harsh and the foliage around this shed is thick, thick, thick. Some of Handellís paintings inspired me to give this a try. My first go at this painting was a FLOP! It was a flop because I tried to shortcut the layout of the painting, mainly the layout of the building. I needed vanishing points and I needed to follow those vanishing points when the building was being drawn out. During my first attempt I tried to lay the building out without using vanishing points. LOSER!


T Porter
03-31-2013, 04:16 AM
Out of all of the paintings I did this month, the shed is my favorite one because it really pushed me. For the under painting of the shed painting I used a lot of orange, red and pink. The orange is under the trees, red for the bushes and pink for the roof. I love the effect that the under painting had on the finished painting.

The next painting was a quickie. It was done in a day. The reference photo for the quail painting came from the pastel forumís Spotlight thread. Simple layout and bold values.


T Porter
03-31-2013, 04:30 AM
This next paintingís reference photo also came from the pastel forumís Spotlight thread and I struggled with completing this painting. The most difficult part was the foreground. Are you starting to notice a reoccurring problem that I seem to have? Iím not sure how to handle the foreground of my paintings.
Anyway I almost wiped the board clear because I got so frustrated, but instead I set the painting aside and let a few days pass before I took on the challenge again. Iím still not sure Iím satisfied with the end result, but Iím going to leave it alone.


03-31-2013, 04:44 AM
The light is very well captured.

T Porter
03-31-2013, 04:55 AM
Two more to go, arenít you glad I didnít paint a painting a day?

For this painting I broke from the 10.5Ē x 13.5Ē format and used an 18.5Ē x 16.5Ē board. This is the painting where I use the Uart 280 paper. This painting was done from a reference photo that I took on a road that leads to Weston. I call it Road to Weston. It took me a while to think that up.

Ever since I saw the barn on the hillside I though it would make a nice scene to paint and then one day a storm was beginning to brew and I knew it would make a great backdrop for the barn so I hopped in my truck and boogied over to take a few pictures as reference for this painting.


For the under painting I used orange and reds and allowed the under painting to peek through in places. I think Iím okay with the way this painting turned out. I like the sky but I think I should have spent more time developing the tree. This may be a candidate for a repaint someday.

T Porter
03-31-2013, 05:05 AM
Last one!

I did this painting on Saturday. The reference photo for it came from the Southwest forum. I am attracted to the image because of the rocks. They seemed like they would be a challenge to paint and make them look believable. I think this painting turned out okay.


C&C are welcomed and would be appreciated.

Deb F
03-31-2013, 09:19 AM
Wow. I love the quail, the Teton lowlands, the aspens and the marsh painting. I accidentally noticed that I preferred the marsh painting with the lower third of the painting cropped out. These are all really good paintings, and you should be proud of yourself. You are an inspiration to me to PAINT MORE.

Of all of these I think I like the Teton lowlands the best, although the quail painting is a close second. Thanks for showing us your work.

03-31-2013, 12:52 PM
I know that "WOW" is over used but...WOW.. This series of paintings deserve it. Your progress shows in every one. I've looked through the thread at least 5 times and I am so impressed with your determination. I can't decide which one I like best because I see something different each time. Your technique changes and each one is beautiful in its own way.

03-31-2013, 02:11 PM
Wow! You have been busy! Some really good stuff here and, well, it's the way to learn isn't it, by practicing as often as you can. I'll just tell you my favourites.....the Tetons one where the water is not the only beautiful thing and the Shed covered with foliage, great!

03-31-2013, 04:10 PM
Very nice work! You have certainly shown growth from you first painting through the latter ones. The Teresa Saia workshop's influence shows up positively. She is a local artist and her Dakota workshops are close by ... I hope to someday have the time and money available at the same time to attend one.

03-31-2013, 06:48 PM
wow such vibrancy!!