Value and color study of a park scene

study of park scene Jun 10 2019
Color study, 5×7 oil on primed paper

I’ve been watching some new painting instruction videos with different demonstrations on ways to start paintings. I feel like I have a good handle on monochromatic tonal underpaintings and wanted to explore the simple color shapes approach.

I started by making a series of thumbnails to sort out the composition and values. If you’re familiar with Edgar Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Paintings, you can see how mine is a blend of steelyard and three spot. Then I used black, white, and grey paints to make a monochromatic value study to see how things would look on my panel. 

value study of park scene Jun 10 2019
Value study using oil paints in black, white, and greys

After finishing the black and white study, I was curious to see how it would look as a notan. I took a photo and adjusted the contrast to two values. I mostly liked what I saw, except now that I look at it again, I can see a few shapes that are the same size. My lesson here is to be willing to make changes if needed! I was pretty much in the mindset to keep moving forward, so even if I had noticed the mimicked shapes before moving on to color, I likely wouldn’t have made adjustments.

value study of park scene Jun 10 2019-notan conversion
High-contrast value study to see balance of light and dark

For my color study, I didn’t premix any colors, and worked with thinned paint for the initial block-in. This felt very different to me compared to the tonal underpainting style — looser and more exploratory. I’m not sure how it would feel if I didn’t have the value study sitting right next to it for reference though.

It’s been a few days since I was able to paint, so I really enjoyed getting this time at my easel in. Plus I got a new white glass palette to try to combat my overly dark and dull color mixes, and it was super fun putting the little blobs of paint around the perimeter of the clean, bright palette. We’ll see if it’s a good fit moving forward, but today it certainly brought me a lot of joy.

I’m not sure how much I like the highlights on the tree trunks in the distant trees. Thinner and darker marks would be better. I definitely don’t like how one of them lines up perfectly with the shrub on the right. And I did the same thing above the shrub on the left… wow you have to watch that sort of thing like a hawk!