Little landscape painting of an early spring morning

4x6 landscape painting  Apr 12 2019
4×6 landscape painting on Claessens #66 oil primed linen

I’m in the process of experimenting with lots of different painting surfaces to see which ones I prefer using for different approaches. When I read The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm, he mentioned that he likes using Claessens #66 which is an oil-primed linen with a medium texture. I splurged on a sample of it and have been sitting on it ever since because I felt like it needed to be “saved” for something special. Which is silly of me — how will I know if I even like using this type of material unless I use it??

I’ll be able to get several pieces out of this nice sized sample, but before cutting it all up I wanted to test out adhering the canvas to some Gator Board to make a panel out of it. So I cut a small piece to make a 4×6 panel and that’s what this tiny little landscape was painted on. I thought it would be a good way to test out putting together each of the foundational techniques I learned in Barbara Jaenicke’s excellent oil course “Painting the Poetic Landscape”.

After choosing and cropping a recent photo I took near the Falls Lake park office, I made thumbnail sketches of compositions and thought about what drew me to the scene in the first place. I love the way the morning light is catching this one spot of the bushes and causing a long shadow and light pattern on the ground. I planned my value structure around having the most contrast and detail at the sunlit bush area.

Once my composition was organized I toned the surface of the panel with transparent oxide yellow, drew in the basic lines of the shapes, and blocked in the dark and medium values with burnt umber while wiping out the lightest areas with a rag.

4x6 landscape painting - underpainting Apr 12 2019
Underpainting in transparent oxide yellow and burnt umber

Then I mixed up some colors, making 5 columns on my palette to represent the main values I wanted to use. The colors in the sunlight were warmer than the shadow colors.

I started to apply color with the cooler colors, keeping some of the shadow areas very thin to allow a bit of the underpainting to peek through. I worked my way around the painting to see how my color relationships worked, and for the most part I was happy with what I had mixed up.

The hardest part of this one was figuring out a way to handle the background trees. I tried several things and was happiest with the results from using a palette knife. Adding a hint of sky and sunlight between the tree trunks helped open up the area without being distracting.

The oil-primed linen was really nice to work on. I found it to be easy to use, meaning it didn’t fight against any of the things I wanted to do.

This was so fun to create! And another great reminder of how painting small and often will help me improve my skills.