Review of my landscape paintings and sketches so far:
Without a doubt the landscapes that most appeal to me are the colourful ‘big’ landscapes with mountains and valleys. eg. Paintings 3,4 and 8. Each of these used different techniques but the resultant effects are similar. No. 3 is neat acrylic. No. 4 is Anilinky paint and collage with textures. No.8 is acrylic glazes and lots of water. All are vibrant and bold, with the colour allowing me to loosen up and be a little less realistic.
I don’t feel that I’ve really got into landscapes in the way I hoped. There’s no seascapes, woodland/vegetation or proper townscapes. The last couple of months have been so totally unsettling and it’s really hard to focus on anything for long but I have to push myself to try at least one of the above to move forward.
Colin Pethick LiveStream seascape tutorial:
By chance I’ve heard that a local artist, Colin Pethick, who has featured on Sky Portrait Artist of the Year and whom I met last summer, is starting live stream sessions instead of his regular classes. The first 2 sessions will be a seascape – great learning opportunity I can’t miss out on!
Pretty impressed with this finished piece. Second session was really just touching up areas and trying to follow it on an internet connection that kept failing so I had to guess at most of it. Glad I made notes on how to make certain colours/ techniques as I went along. Learnt a lot about studying light and dark areas (under a wave is very dark, were light comes through top is light/jade, reflections) and also using a variety of brushes to get different effects. This has always been rather trial and error for me, usually error. But Colin explained how to use a fan brush to drag spray, large dry brush to smooth, large flat square ended brushes, one side of small flat brush to edge etc.
Also learnt about considering the need for a variety of values within a painting. eg A light source can only be painted so light but to make it really stand out there needs to be dark values as contrast. Think about a painting in terms of grey scale as you paint as well as considering the actual colours – there needs to be a balance of light and dark with everything between.
Colin Pethick on FaceBook live stream available only to friends/subscribers.
Bob Ross YouTube seascape:
My kids have long talked about Bob Ross and his soothing voice so I decided to YouTube his work and look especially at how he tackles seascapes. A much quicker tutorial this time but although he may have a lovely soothing voice, he doesn’t really explain a lot just tells you how simple it is!
He uses a very confusing palette of colours too with names of paints that I’ve never come across before. This makes it very hard to know whether shades are lighter/darker in relation to each other. I eventually discovered this is because he make his own range of paints and was able to print out his online list with vague colours included and mix my own versions (see sketchbook):
This took less than an hour and I found is very hard to follow so I’m surprised it looks as good as it does.
The sky: Black scrubbed lightly in spirals, then Phthalo and white in spaces. Next white with Alizarin Crimson. Blend base of clouds only – leave top edges sharper. Finally use large dry brush to lightly smooth horizontally. This hasn’t worked for me, I definitely need more white fluffy-ness and less horizontal brushing. ***More practice and investigation with painting skies is definitely needed!
I couldn’t make out his method for creating the splash against the rocks at all so I used a small palette knife over the top of the mess to add white and also flicked spray.
Rocks were his 2 browns (Van Dyke and Dark Sienna) plus Yellow Ochre using a palette knife. This is a method I’ve done before and it works pretty well. A bit fiddly getting the sea to meet the rocks at their base but tried a line of white with blue tint on edge of knife.
Bob Ross (2016) Bob Ross – Surf’s Up (Season 9 Episode 2). At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKxFvyyOBPQ (Accessed 02/04/2020).
How to Paint Dynamic Skies:
Scott Naismith is an artist I’ve long loved and used for inspiration before. Again by chance, in these times when the internet takes on more significance, I discovered that he uploads lot of videos – mainly explaining to amateur painters what NOT to do rather than a step by step process this time.
Scott Naismith on YouTube: these are just a selection from my day watching this fabulous artist explaining how he paints. The fusion of air, land and water – do we need to know where one ends and another begins?
Graeme Stevenson (Colour in Your Life) (2018) Oil over acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Scott Naismith I Colour In Your Life. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybyKqZnMPdA (Accessed 01/04/2020).
Scott Naismith (2012a) Painting A Sky in 4 Minutes!. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJPEgTkqYNk (Accessed 01/04/2020).
Scott Naismith (2012b) ‘Primary Sky’ Painting Demo. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH4UEXl8_aY (Accessed 01/04/2020).
Scott Naismith (2013) ‘Colour Theory: Balance and Harmony’ At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOVXP6ILtrM (Accessed 01/04/2020).
Scott Naismith (2014) How to Paint Better Skies. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pluqUqjC0fk (Accessed 01/04/2020).
Scott Naismith (2019) Scott Naismith Interview with Morningside Gallery. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-PC0YxHK8 (Accessed 01/04/2020).
He uses the CMY colour wheel with primary colours as Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Making secondary colours of green, red and blue. And the complement to Blue is Yellow etc – very confusing! I had a go at mixing with the nearest colours I have (as above). Yellow and Cyan made Green as expected, but the others didn’t work. Ordered Winsor and Newton Process Magenta and Process Cyan to give it another go (see bottom tests on above). Yellow and Magenta does not seem to make red though at a push Cyan and Magenta make blue. I can honestly say that I’m now totally confused. I’m going to ignore all this and stick to the usual RBY colour wheel and its secondaries/complimentary colours. Love Scott Naismith’s use of colour but not his theories 🙂
My Assignment painting:
I feel like I have an idea how to attempt a seascape now and need to have a go on my own. I spend a lot of time down on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset so that will be my starting point for inspiration.
Vibrant skies/sun/clouds, reflections on the sea and sand, waves breaking and wavelets on the beach, rocks, wet sand… Composition sketches below:
I think no.4 works best : West Bay cliffs at Sunrise, golden colour of cliffs lite up in the sunlight to a glowing gold. Horizon at 1/3 from bottom so lots of room for sky colours. Cliffs on left 1/3 and rising sun at 1/3 from right side. Use techniques learnt from Colin Pethick for sea and sand (and Bob Ross?) and from Scott Naismith for the sunrise and clouds. Acrylics.
900x600mm is a huge canvas and it’s very intimidating! Eventually I pluck up the courage to at least put on a Burnt Sienna ground…
Now I feel that I’ve got the basic painting there and it needs lots of refinement.
- Clouds need sharp top edge, blended base – see Scott Naismith notes
- Adjust the dark tones at top right – the flow isn’t working there
- make sky under the sun darker perhaps…
- completely redo the wavelets and foam on beach, they are a mess. Possibly try white glaze over sand and drag backwards towards sea. Look at more photos
- tweek cliffs and rocks – more golden, dark under ridge
- continue with sea, waves and reflection (should it be wider?)
- bring sky colours down onto sand and in reflection
Checking tonal values using greyscale photo: I think the cliffs need more light tones so they really stand out. Sky perhaps too dark? Sun and reflection have good contrast.
When I came back to this a couple of days later, my main concern was the sky – something just wasn’t right about it so I googled lots of ‘colourful sunrise’ images:
So I’ve got it the wrong way around – the light and bright tones are at the base of each cloud with dark above!
That’s better. The dark purple gives the clouds volume and shows the sky above and beyond. Now I’m worried that it’s too dark overall and I don’t like the dark sky against the top of cliffs (they need contrast) …
Added some lighter toned purples and more cyan blue for the sky behind. Light/dark contrast balance is better now but I preferred the previous version! I’m not a fan of light purple. And I need to repaint clouds so they are in front of the blue background. Needs some more of those deep purples back in there…
As finished as it’s going to be. I could go on and on with that sky but have to just stop now.
I really like the composition of this painting. The golden cliffs help lead the eye backwards to the horizon. The reflections in the sea and bright sand are a focal point leading to the slither of light coming down through the clouds.
The contrast between the shady base of the cliffs with the sun lite lower sand works well and the rocks in the sea help give scale to the foreground.
I used lots of texture to build up the cliffs using a palette knife to thickly apply the paint, scraping it back to allow the lower layers to show. I scratched horizontal marks across the cliffs to show the clear layers in the rock. The cliffs at West Bay are regular and rounded without great holes or features. The regular rock falls there take whole vertical slices from the cliffs.
The sea is calm with gentle waves. I have added light touches of colours from the sky into the water to bring it together – maybe I could add more of these? I’m happy enough with the sea to the right but struggled with getting the perspective correct with the sea going off into the distance on the left. It looks too flat, but then it is a long straight part of coast back to that far headland…
The slither of light coming through the clouds works well with the bright reflection on the water in the far distance. I think it would have been better if that light was a little nearer to the sea – less of a gap between.
The sky is the part that bothers me. I should have studied photos of sunrises before starting to paint and then I would have got the dark tones in the correct place first time but there’s now just too much paint. I love vibrant, colourful skies and this is an area that will certainly feature in my work to come so it’s important for me to keep practicing and refining techniques.
This painting has definitely been influenced by both Colin Pethick for the sea and waves, and Scott Naismith for the sky. I have really learnt so much from both of them during this exercise. Moving forward I must now study the paintings of the millions of artists that paint the sea/waves/storms especially off the Cornish coast, find those that appeal to me and study their techniques. Alongside this I need to continue looking at the clouds and how the tones work together to give a feel of volume and depth.
I haven’t yet read through Part 5 but assuming it fits in with the brief there, I’d really like to continue exploring ways of portraying the coast and sky using vibrant colour to show off its beauty and power.