Landscape study in color temperature

landscape study based on Painting the Poetic Landscape Color Temperature lesson - completed
Painted from a reference photo taken at sundown, with warm evening sunlight and cool sky blues reflected in the water

Study topics

Composition with 5 shapes; color temperature

Process notes

Using the fourth lesson on Color Temperature from Barbara Jaenicke’s oil course, Painting the Poetic Landscape, I made a thumbnail study from a photo I took recently on a road trip between Charlotte and Raleigh. Then I sketched it in with a brush onto a toned 9×12 sheet of paper primed with acrylic gesso and molding paste followed by a tonal underpainting.

landscape study based on Painting the Poetic Landscape Color Temperature lesson - block-in
Tonal underpainting

For colors, I mixed a variety of cools and warms in the 4 basic values of my composition (blue, violet, orange, green). Blocked in the cool colors, then warm colors. Once everything was blocked in, I added details in the water ripples, plants, and tree trunk.

What I learned

The surface I experimented with (acrylic gesso + molding paste) didn’t work nearly as well for me as the one I made with a layer of matte medium. While toning this surface the bristles my hog bristle brush started to break off. I think it was too much like sandpaper for the natural hairs, so I switched to a large synthetic for the rest of the toning and scrubby block-in.

This underpainting got rather intense and red, much less neutral than my previous ones. I think it’s making my painting take on an overly pink tone, but I can’t tell if it’s that or I’m using too much red in my color mixes. Will have to continue to explore with that.

Two things I really like about this study:

  1. The two grassy plants in the water, and the way the palette knife carved some sharp lines out of the soft general shape. I went overboard with the peachy highlights on them, but the general approach was great!
  2. The colors in the water and the reflections.

I don’t like this composition very much…the thick tree trunk on the right cuts off the rest of the painting in an awkward way so there’s not a good flow. I thought it would make an interesting, abstract dark shape, but not so much. I actually prefer it cropped out:

landscape study based on Painting the Poetic Landscape Color Temperature lesson - completed cropped
The composition is improved by cropping out the tree trunk on the right

There’s one more demo in this course, called Edges & Editing. I’m loving these lessons and how they focus on a specific fundamental topic. One thing I’m interested in is making my colors lower in intensity and naturalistic while capturing the intriguing qualities of light. This series is helping me see that colors can be quite muted on the palette, but once they’re sitting together on the canvas the whole relationship can change.