At a recent meeting of the Log Cabin Art Guild at Sesquicentennial State Park, I gave a talk about how to decide on a subject when painting outdoors and how to get started on your painting. This demo was quite an adventure because I forgot to bring any white paint! Fortunately, I had a tube of a warm light gray paint that I had received as a sample and was able to use it to mix a light sky. Whew! I might have make the sky lighter, but in the end I thought this gave nice subdued color harmony and left it alone.
Here are some notes from my presentation and the finished painting.
- Paint (or draw) outdoors if possible. You can see colors better than the camera. Absorb the feel of the place.
- Scout around and pick a spot in the shade. Look for light from the side.
- Frame with a viewfinder or camera.
- Stay off the “idiot line”.
- Compose using the rule of thirds
- Place the horizon at 1/3 or 2/3. Is it about earth or sky?
- Establish focal point (area of impact) in one of the sweet spots using contrast of color and value.
- Tone your canvas or board with a warm color (red or yellow ochre) in advance
- Use a limited palette and mix colors in advance
- Paint darks first, then lights. Once you have established the value structure, the middle values can be any color.
Remember: You are the artist. You control the composition. Don’t be confused by reality!