Monday, April 25, 2016

Topiary Gardens Timelapse

This was a scene from a brief visit to Lake Waban early last Fall.  I got a quite a few photos out of that visit and hope to return this Spring for more once everything has bloomed.  It's a beautiful area with a walking trail around the lake, beautiful bridges, and a variety of smaller ponds, marshes, and wooded areas that you pass through on the walk.  A very peaceful destination despite the fact that it's usually littered with visitors and Wellesley College students.

I saw this scene as having a lot of potential for a vibrant landscape painting, combining the geometric elements of the topiaries and sublime peacefulness of the nature scene as viewed from across the lake.  I was looking forward to trying to capture the extreme contrast of foreground and background, and of the shadows cast onto the bright green grass.  Here are some of the steps leading up to its completion with some notes along the way:

I usually start out with a quick wash as a ground layer, specifically choosing a warmer tone for this piece as I know I'll want it to show through.

Then I paint a quick line sketch with a more opaque version of the color for the wash, loosely marking down where the larger areas will fit into the composition.

Now I'm filling it all in with fairly opaque layers of saturated color.  I'm making sure to use a direct painting approach because I know I want the end result to be startlingly green and have an almost paint by number feel where there's a little negative space in between the trees.  Laying in multiple thin layers and building up to this would cover the surface more evenly and possibly wipe out the punchy underpainting showing through.

The end result.  This was one of few paintings where I was able to avoid jumping the gun and painting the blue sky while the tops of the trees were still wet, which would usually end up dulling the blue and lowering the contrast.  When it comes to oil painting, patience is your friend.  

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