Friday 28 February 2014

The Big Picture

In the studio I've been working on a big painting recently. Oil on canvas. Haven't worked in oils for a year.  The subject is based on this sketch I did of Loch Torridon, looking east.

I made a conscious decision to work on a big painting in oils. I reminded myself of Egon Schiele's approach and started in oil paints and turps, and pencil marks. I got it as far as this on the first day.

I was pleased with this, but it is a bit colourless really. I was wanting to try and capture the beauty of the scene but not be too heavy-handed. I find it more of a challenge working in oils, and have been determined not to lose a lightness of touch that I'm striving for in acrylics and I'm keen to capture in all my paintings.
As we've been up in these parts again this week, I wanted to do some extra colour studies. So I went back to my sketching place and did a couple of sketches in pastel.  First I focused on the long view. I was struck with how colourful the water looked. But I think now I was exaggerating this a bit.
Then I focused on the trees on the promontory. I really want this to be the focal point of the big painting.
When we got back to the cottage, I had a go at painting these views as studies, using acrylic and conte and pencil.  First the long view, trying desperately hard to capture the feel of the water in the loch, so many different subtle colour transitions.
And then the view of the trees, with the dark water and the bright trees. Thinking about colour relationships and juxtapositions...
Interesting....but where do I do from here?  Back into the studio on Monday. The big painting should be dry enough to work on, but the challenge for me is to retain that lightness of touch, I think.

Composition is so interesting, isn't it?

Sunday 9 February 2014

Strathcarron Hills In My Sights

For the last couple of weeks I've been focusing on my sketches of the Strathcarron Hills and working on  a painting using this as a motif. It's a bit of a departure for me cos there's no sea in this view - it's all landscape. And it's quite a complex landscape of hills above hills involving different textures of landscape. I suppose I'm trying to do something a bit different.
Here's the original sketch that I did sitting above Achintee, looking over the Strath. I quite enjoyed doing this and I had time to complete it as the weather was not too cold for once.  I like this sketch!
 I started with a composition which was smaller than the sketch. Used a graphite stick and some pencil.
I thought this was quite a good composition so then got going first with some gouache then using acrylic of watercolour consistency. Yellow ochre was the main colour.
Strathcarron Hills (small) - unfinished?
Now...I quite like this. I like the restraint of colour and lots of white showing through. But on the other hand it did look a bit unfinished. So I carried on in acrylic and pencil. Added Prussian Blue and Ultramarine.
Strathcarron Hills (small) - Finished?
I then got to this point with it. I quite like this - I think it looks quite polished. But it has lost a certain something, maybe a certain mystery? Anyway, I thought I'd try anther version, this time with a wider perspective, with a composition closer to the sketch. It started off like this.
Gosh - it's a bit messy, isn't it? Then I added the acrylic again - using pretty much the same palette.
Strathcarron Hills (large) - unfinished?
This is a great mess, but nowhere near finished so I fiddled around with acrylic paint and pencil till I got to this point.
On reflection, I thought this looked a bit drab and uninteresting. Maybe a bit sedate for my liking. What was the point of this painting? So after a few days I returned to it and tried to add a bit more colour interest to the lower slopes, bringing out the landform and knocking back the high hills a bit. Also did a bit of extra work on the trees.
Strathcarron Hills (large) - finished?
I'm stopping there and I'll leave these alone for a bit.  What do you think? Are these two paintings finished? Or have I gone too far with these?