Friday, February 17, 2012

Inscape III - Morning sequence....

Surprisingly, I've had a few people ask me about my painting process -- which actually cracks me up, because I rarely feel like I've got a handle on what I'm doing day to day, let alone describing it to others --- we go...
This is the initial sketch I worked from; 8x10.....

First off I tone a 16x20 panel with a light wash of burnt sienna color; then a loose sketch to draw in the major elements; at this point I also a looking at spatial relationships in the drawing...often drawing lines around elements to see if I'm happy with the negative spaces as well.

Initially, I lay in the darks first as I have a tendency to lose my darks quite quickly. I work from a three-color palette -- Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson or Cad Red Medium, Cad Yellow Lemon, and Titanium White. Also at this point in my development it helps me think about working with the shadows. Working loose and thinly with a mixture of Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson (my chosen red for this painting), and Cad Yellow Lemon.

Still looking at spatial relationships, I decide that another grove of trees helps balance the composition a bit and helps establish more of a feeling of distance by creating what I think of as a secondary middle ground.

Once I feel pretty good about the drawing and my placement of darks, I move to the sky and block in the color from a mixture of Ultramarine, Alizarin, White and portions of my left over dark mixture -- the foreground and water will also be derived from these colors in one proportion or another. I also go back to my trees and horizon lines to adjust edges, blend, and re-establish some darker shadows.

Completing the initial color pass, I lay in the middle value colors of the trees, foreground and reflections. Up to this point, everything has been done in one sitting, working wet-into-wet. I'm trying to pay particular attention to color harmony and edge relationships before letting the painting "set-up" for a bit.

After letting the piece sit overnight (if longer than overnight, I will often give the piece a very light coat of Liquin or Neo-Megilp to unify the colors and create a wet-into-wet feeling), I start to work in more local color on the trees and foreground, tighten up any details that I want to add in the center of interest, and generally make sure my value relationships are where I want them.

After this stage, I will set the painting aside and place it in a frame before going back over it for any final adjustments -- for me, this is now the hardest stage....

Inscape III - Morning; 16x20; oil on panel


  1. William, Very Interesting process, and a great outcome. Much luck on your art journey, you are very talented. all the Best, Melissa

  2. Thanks so much for your step by step. This really helps my beginners process.

  3. Just wondering how you get your initial sketch? Do you paint plein aire for that?

  4. Thank you very much, Melissa

    Norena....thanks for checking it out

    Hi Molly, yes....I usually try to start from a plein air study....occasionally, if time or weather aren't cooperating, I will work from a couple of very quick value sketches and a photo. I try to have a few photos of the subject around as well when I do very large pieces....