The Grand View - Afternoon Edition, A Step-by-Step Demonstration by Paul Kratter
The Grand View -
This is a photo of the view I saw every day as this scene is about ten feet from my campsite at Lake Ediza. I always have at least one goal and I had two on this one. The first one was to have FUN! Secondly, I wanted an immediate read of foreground and background. I was attracted to the vertical tree element and the granite rock formation. They would be my anchors for the piece.
I first did a 3 x 3" ball-point pen sketch to determine if the piece was worth doing. I determined there were five distinct shapes, that the trees were the darkest element, and that the geometric rocks were also a unique shape. I divided my sketch into three basic values; white, gray and black. I made the decision to use an 8 x 10" panel and change my composition slightly.
My linen panel was first primed with Fastmatte (Gamblin) and a little India Yellow-Orange and Cobalt Blue. That gave the panel a little more grip and a warm color that helped key the painting. I quickly did a light pencil drawing and then, using Ultramarine Blue, I did a linear drawing with a #2 brush and filled in the tree shape. That's three drawing steps before I even painted with color!
I next blocked in the shadows of the mountains using Ultramarine Blue, a little Dioxazine Purple and some Cadmium Orange along with White and a little Turpenoid. The paint is pretty thin and translucent. Then using Sap Green and Alizarin Crimson, I blocked in the tree shape. Note: I'm working pretty quickly as the light is changing pretty rapidly. I'm also really observing the shapes and making small drawing adjustments. I consider that I'm always drawing with the brush.
I blocked in the light side of the mountain. My aim is make sure the values don't jump out. The colors I used were Cadmium Orange, a little India Yellow-Orange, Cobalt Blue and White. The snow patch was tricky—I wanted it to read but, not too strongly. The foreground rocks are quite light. I used White with Cool Gray (a light bluet color) and a little Cadmium Orange. I also worked on the tree with angular brushwork using Sap Green and India Yellow-Orange. Note: this is a great time to back up to look at your painting from a different perspective. Sometimes I see drawing issues or I might adjust a color or value. I usually paint a bit bright to start out and then tone down my colors. I like to compare this to being in a room with a dimmer switch on the lights. I turn down the dimmer and it's still full color, just more understated.
I went back to the shadow side and spent more with developing my angular brush work. I also added some color nuances. To get the softer edges, I dragged my brush between different shapes and also added a bit of texture. This stage takes time and I've slowed down my pace and thought more about what I was trying to convey. I'm looking less at the scene and more at my painting.
I wanted the rocks in the foreground to come forward so I added a little more opaque color by adding more whiter paint and less Turpenoid. I did the same thing to the grass in front of the rocks.
The final step! I scan the whole painting looking at what needs subtle changes. I added some soft edges to the tree with some orange added to the greens. I worked a little reflected light into the rocks and also added a few grasses for variety. I added a little pinker color in the snow patch to push it back. I signed it and yelled out, "Nailed It!". Note: this took about an hour and a half. It really helped me to set goals before I started so it was clear where I was heading. Throughout the whole process I had my sketchbook at my feet, so I would never forget the impact of the scene that I was after. I also think, "What's the reward for looking at my piece up close?" It's my color subtleties and brushwork. Have fun, I sure did!
Visit Paul Kratter's website: http://www.paulkratter.com
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