Landscape Painting

I’ve been struggling lately. Some days depression just grabs hold of me and doesn’t let go. I have been under its grip for about two to three weeks now.

I have dedicated myself to do little tasks each day, though not pushing myself too hard. This has allowed me to paint my latest landscape. I…

I’ve been struggling lately. Some days depression just grabs hold of me and doesn’t let go. I have been under its grip for about two to three weeks now.

I have dedicated myself to do little tasks each day, though not pushing myself too hard. This has allowed me to paint my latest landscape. I had honestly hoped to paint three paintings to submit for my first semester of work at the Virtual Art Academy, however with the latest constraints I was only able to paint the one.

I’m steadily blown away by the amazing artists on VAA; so many wonderfully skilled people who are willing to share and collaborate in such a friendly environment. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I do highly recommend it. This post barely skims the surface of what has been taught in the last semester, it’s more of a way to record my own progress publicly.

Landscape Painting In Oils
Landscape Painting In Oils

Generally we are encouraged to paint from real-life as much as possible; you see everyone recommends this. Unfortunately for me the weather isn’t quite cool enough for prolonged explore to the elements, so I resorted to digital photos from Pixabay.

I cropped the scene to focus more on the tree. It was this lone tree in the scene that attracted me to the photo, and I wanted to emphasize this.

Landscape Painting ReferenceLandscape Painting Reference
Landscape Painting Reference

As you may remember from some of my other posts, we are encouraged to break down our artworks to see the interesting forms and shapes as a notan. My notan study was somewhere between a mass and contour notan to be honest. (The different types of notans are taught in the first few weeks at VAA.) I wanted add a bit more detail to understand how the elements interacted together, whilst still keeping the larger areas as singular values when possible. I also wanted to adjust the shadow so that it took up a bit more foreground space compared to the very horizontal shadow in the reference photo.

Skipping much further forward in the assignment timeline, I am nearly finished:

First Layers of Paint in Landscape PaintingFirst Layers of Paint in Landscape Painting
First Layers of Paint in Landscape Painting

Some of the subtle shifts in color don’t show up in photograph so well, oh well!

Staring at this painting for two days, I was inclined to hate it. I think that’s my black dog barking (that’s a reference to what Churchill called his depression). Every time I looked at it, I just kept thinking thoughts such as “it’s not good enough, this looks wrong, I can’t paint, I suck at art….” I actually forced myself to walk away from the canvas several times as I noticed my internal monologue was getting too negative and over-powering.

Strangely enough, a few days later I returned and looked at the painting under “new light”. Instead of just beating myself up, I looked at specifics. If the painting wasn’t good enough to submit for assessment, then I could make it a learning piece – nothing you do is a failure.

  • I decided that the mountain in the distance was too reddish. Typically we think of distant landscape features such as mountains as purple, but we often don’t look at what shade. In this case it needed to be more bluish.
  • I want to learn to paint distant trees and foliage more effectively. Initially I had them joining a hard edge (middle ground slope) and it looked so distracting, thus the blending that I did.
  • I want to practice painting foliage on the trees more, though I was rather pleased with my first attempts. This was a technique taught by Tim Gagnon.
  • I didn’t follow the shadow shape as defined in the contour sketches.
  • The highlights on the trees don’t correspond to the shadows on the ground – I have multiple light sources that conflict with one another.

Despite all these negative statements, I am pretty happy with this painting – it’s one of the first landscape paintings I have every done. It is a significant progress to start a new and daunting theme, especially when skills are lacking.

I still have a lot to improve, but each time I do a painting you can see the progress.

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