For the final entry in my 9 mini landscapes painting project, I chose a photo from my collection that was not very interesting as a composition. But I liked enough of the elements to do some redesigning in order to turn it into something I liked better.
As I studied the reference photo, one of the things that stood out to me was the contrast between the large tree in the foreground that was almost entirely in shadow, and the middle ground trees that were struck by the low evening light. So that’s what I chose as the concept: the main star of the scene being in shadow, with the supporting players actually being the more interesting elements in light.
The composition is based on the L design stem. I originally had things moved away from the center lines, but they migrated during the painting process — it’s funny how that happens so easily!
My color strategy was based on a palette of colors that would be somewhat limited, with a full range of colors possible, and earth tones for quick neutralizing of colors. I wanted to start with a warmer and cooler pile of nondescript neutrals and bend them toward greens, mauves, and yellows. The colors I selected were:
- cadmium yellow light
- cadmium red medium
- ultramarine violet
- prussian blue
- yellow ochre
- burnt sienna
- burnt umber
- ivory black
- Utrecht white
This approach helped me get the intensity in the right ball park but the colors still required constant reining in because they really wanted to go high chroma. I also established that the dominant color temperature was to be cool, which I think I achieved. But it’s not necessarily the color harmony I had imagined. After playing with the image in Photoshop by adding a yellow filter to it, I’m seeing that what I really wanted was more of a golden cast over it to suggest the warmth of evening light. That’s definitely something I’d like to experiment with by adding a yellow to every mix to unify (a mother color approach).
I went back to doing a monochromatic block in using burnt umber. The surface had been toned with a mix of yellow ochre and ivory black, but that color didn’t seem to have much effect on my color mixes.
While I don’t love the colors in this one, I do like that a sense of light has been captured!