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Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Morning Art School: How to develop an oil field sketch


A fast, simple way to do a quick, finished field study.

Megunticook River, Camden, by Carol L. Douglas
 A few weeks ago I mentioned that I use Inktense pencils to mark out my paintings on canvas. This is a technique borrowed from my pal Kristin Zimmermann.

Value study in charcoal.
My first step is always a value study. Whether I do this with charcoal, greyscale markers, or pencil is immaterial—if the value structure doesn’t work, the painting won’t work. After writing my post about value studies with Inktense pencils, I realized I could just as easily use the Inktense pencils and water to do my value study on paper as well as the transfer. That removes one more extraneous item from my backpack.

Inktense pencil transfer.
Next, I draw the picture on my canvas with the watercolor pencil. This is never simply a question of transferring my rough value sketch, nor is it a finished drawing into which I paint. What I do is a carefully-measured map of the future painting. I find this particularly useful when painting architecture, where measurement matters a great deal.

Using a watercolor pencil allows me to erase to my heart’s content with water, but when I finally start painting in oil the drawing is locked into the bottom layer.

Big shapes, blocked in.
From this point, I block in the big shapes, paying attention to preserving the values of my sketch, and working (generally) from dark to light. This is especially important if you plan to take more than a few hours to do a painting, because it allows you to paint through significant changes in lighting.

I say “big shapes,” but while I focus on these, I do not obliterate all the drawing I did earlier.

I’d originally set this painting up without the framing walls on either side of the river. It was on reaching this degree of blocking that I realized that I wanted the wall on the left back in. Putting it in over wet paint (without a drawing) resulted in it being somewhat vague compared to the rest of the painting, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Ironically, looking back at it five years later, I think the composition was better without the tight framing. That just points to how subjective these decisions are.

It's about time for you to consider your summer workshop plans. Join me on the American Eagle, at Acadia National Park, at Rye Art Center, or at Genesee Valley this summer.

2 comments:

janicekidmusic said...

Fabulous! Thank you so much!

Carol Douglas said...

You're very welcome!