Friday, February 19, 2010

Beginning a Landscape Painting Part 1 of 11 with Andy Braitman

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We're going to lay out this image and my goal is just to get a feel for the space and the distance I'm trying to get in this painting.

First thing I do is just get comfortable with the surface and my painting distance. I've got a little bit of turpentine in my paint so it dries quickly.

I'm kind of establishing a ratio that will let me step into the painting. I'm going to use that ratio to find a way to end this wedge.

Then I'll start referencing the photograph but that's going to change pretty quickly. I want to get a sense for this bit of land. I'm going to have a large dark mass that holds the corner of the canvas.

Then I want to have a bit of a background reference so I have some sense of distance. I'm just going to sit back and look at the basic layout.

This looks a little steep to me right now and I'm jumping in too quickly so I'm going to try and break that down a little bit and I'll change color in order to do that.

If I don't change color I won't be able to see what it would look like done.

I want to try to slow our speed at which we're going back to this spot. I'm going to break this edge up. Just by squaring it off it we're retarding our speed to get back there.

I'm going to look at this dark mass. My goal is to get us over that land mass a little bit. Next thing I'll do is mix black on a large flat brush, about a 2 inch brush.

I'm going to take as much paint as I can and scrub in this shape here. I try to do a random shape, I try not to be too controlled with this.

I've got a little too much tension right here so I'll open that up a bit then step it back some more. I'm laying in this black shape to hold the canvas and I want to make sure I'm stepping down.

I'm angling things so that I establish a great deal of pressure and tension between this edge. So this back land mass has to drop down and this has to be tall enough to feel that pressure.

So if the canvas were horizontal I would have the dark mass as a horizontal shape. But since the canvas is square then this mass is a relatively symmetrical shape, round or square.

And now I'm going to look at that feeling of tension and in order for me to see this, I'm going to start to change my color a little bit and sculpt what's happening.

I'm going to pick an innocuous color that is going to give me a sense of softness. I can step forward in space and back and then forward and back as I create.

I'm going to switch to a drawing brush and look at my positions. I'm going to switch to a new color and somewhere in here is my distance, I'm going to set that as a ratio.

Once I establish this ratio I'm going to build on it. Everything is going to be referenced to that ratio.

I want to see that just as a reminder in this early stage. These ratios make our eye movement pretty interesting through the painting. Once we've established that, I'm going to keep building on it.

I'm going to leave those marks in as long as I can because they help me figure out where I'm going to put things. The next thing I want to do is establish some sense of distance.

I'm going to give myself a relatively strong set of pure colors in here so that I can get a sense of reference to this. I'm going to make sure I have enough paint here. This is rough surface canvas so I'm going to have to put on a lot of paint to control the surface of the canvas.

Now I'm going to switch brushes and images and clean up a bit and make a wash for that back area. I'm putting in a lighter wash for the back. The wash means that it has a little more medium that usual so I tend not to put in more than 10 percent medium.

I'm not worried about edges either so I'm just going to block in value.

It's really a lot like getting dressed. You lay out your clothes and get them all on and then you tighten things up and cinch up your belt and put on the rest of your jewelry.

Right now I'm just laying everything out to see if it looks good. I may have to change my belt or change my shirt.

There are two big philosophies about when to put in the sky. I tend to put it in toward the end of the early part of the painting, rather than start with it.

I don't know what the colors are going to be yet. I'm just sort of locking in a relative color and I'm going to check this line out so I have room for the water. I'm going to take much whiter paint now and have that water be reflective.

The water is going to flow this way and I'm going to block it in with a series of vertical marks which slows the eye down. Again, I'm trying to get that sense of tension so I might flatten that water out and get more of a downward shift.