Progress on a New Painting

I decided I needed to tackle a new project. I blame the local farmers who out did themselves in planting canola fields throughout Northumberland County this year. The stuff is just eye candy.

I’m not done yet, but decided to post my progress photos up until now. This is a multi day project and each step has required me to tackle real fear. I do not want to screw this one up… yeah, I know, I could paint it out and start over, but I really want to try and think about each stage and resolve the issues each stage has taken.

So, first, the reference photo:


I took a bunch, but this is the one I chose. The eye popping canola from the parking lot of Morattico Baptist Church with the farm buildings just grabbed me.

I opted for a 12 x 24″ format which does not fit this photo exactly, so a few changes had to be made.

First, I did some thumbnail sketches and then put them onto my painting surface (Ampersand Gesso Board) in charcoal. I know, I know, I should not use charcoal for the under drawing of an oil painting, but I’m trying to work out what will and will not work for me. DSC01259

The red barn is supposed to be my focal point. I can tell at this point there is something off, but I’m not sure what it is…. Then I see it, the perspective is off on both of the other sheds. I wipe out, using odorless mineral sprits to a point I can come back and do some additional fixing.


In the foreground, I’ve painted in what I believe is the “background” of the canola flowers. I’ve also left underpainting “blobs” where I plan to put the trees in the mid-ground. They are in early Spring foliage and I know there will be a lot of sky that will have to put back in around branches and foliage, so I’ve mixed up a goodly pile of the sky “color” and saved it.

With this photo, I’m now into Day 2 of this painting with a day in between the sketching and the initial painting.

Today, (Day 3) I got this far. The trees in the background are (I think) where I want them to be. The trees in the mid-ground are almost where I want them. The first photo is just the photo. The second shows my notes, so far — a new trick I’ve picked up from my Photoshop class on inserting text.



I used a palette knife to lay in the tree foliage (thank you to my friend and painting buddy, Daphne, for her tips on this technique) and some of the trunks and limbs and the paint is sort of thick so I will likely leave this one to “rest” a day or two before proceeding so I don’t “pick up” too much tree foliage color when I put in the “sky holes”.

Compositionally, there also needs to be a “diagonal angle” across the foreground canola field leading to the red barn which I don’t want to forget to include. I want there to be a strong atmosphere perspective in this painting because the pollen has been incredibly thick here this Spring. Today, after many days of rain (over 10 inches), the pollen has cleared and the canola blooms are gone. I’m very glad I was able to get some good photos this year.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this painting so far.

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