It was fun to be in class again. I began a new painting as a demonstration in my Oil Painting class. It will be a live oak tree with Spanish moss. But like setting a table, creating a painting works best if you do the steps in the right order. To begin a table setting, one begins with a table cloth. To begin a painting, one begins with the background. This is especially true for landscape paintings - you start with what is farthermost away and work to what is 'closer' to you.
I used just three paints for this stage: ultramarine blue, titanium white and yellow ochre. I mixed the blue and white to get three shades of sky blue. The lightest value I painted as a band along the horizon, the next darker value in the middle of the sky, and the darkest value along the top third of the canvas. By making at least three values in your sky, you get a sense of depth in your landscape. Blend the bands together so there is a smooth transition through all of the blues.
I then added clouds. Do not paint clouds white! Use a lighter blue than any already in your sky. Also clouds in a painting look best if their bottoms are fairly straight and horizontal. Yeah, I know real clouds have all kinds of shapes, but giving them a flat bottom is what makes a better painting. Once you have the clouds shaped, you can now use some white and give them a highlight along the top edge. Soften them with by just tapping the side of your brush gently, and smoothing the highlight back into the body of the cloud. I usually make the clouds larger towards the side of the canvas and narrower towards the middle. This will lead the viewer's eyes into the painting. I made the clouds more intense on the left since I will be placing the tree on the right and covering most of the sky there.
Finally, I blocked in the ground with a mixture of ultramarine blue and yellow ochre, some yellow ochre along the horizon, a small blue puddle of water and streaks of the green mix. The ground has the darkest value at the bottom of the canvas and gets lighter towards the horizon. This will also add to the sense of depth in your landscape. I added some distant trees along the horizon. These are just dabs of the greenish gold making sure I left sky showing through. I usually make the these trees taller at each edge and shorter in the middle. That also adds to the sense of space.
I will begin the tree in next week's demo. Keep creating!