Thursday, April 16, 2009

Step Two

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 9" x 12"

A few years ago at a plein air workshop, I said to my instructor, "I really enjoy working on the underpainting." He responded with a fairly powerful statement: "Then just keep underpainting."

While developing a painting, it is easy for artists to lose our original focus. We must continually challenge ourselves to remember why we wanted to paint THIS scene on THIS day. If we can keep the "underpainting feeling" all the way to the finished product, we can hold on to our first vision more easily.

During the underpainting stage, I use broad, loose brush strokes. I pay attention to shapes, color relationships and any movement caused by breezes, currents or waves. Stage Two and the rest of the process should be about refining these ideas, not replacing them.

Using the same brush and the same energetic strokes, I have added some greens to the trees in the middle ground and in the distance. I have also added some variety in color and tone in the foreground grasses.

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