oil painting · Reference Photos · Step-by-step

Working through a painting

I’m still working on the next painting in my roadway series. I don’t know at what point I realized I had a theme going, but there it is…

So here is the reference photo. I took this photo a few years ago on my phone while taking a short cut from one main road to another while visiting the homes of clients on my old job. It is somewhere in Lancaster or Northumberland County, but I don’t remember exactly where. There are a number of roads like this in our neck of the woods, so it could probably be just about anywhere.

Reference Photo

I started the painting a few weeks ago, but got distracted by stuff… you know, like life. I was also a little frustrated by what I laid out that first day and just let it sit on the easel and looked at it each time I came into the studio. I made note of a number of things I knew needed to change.

First day of painting

The reference photo attracted me for several reasons. I like the cool/warm contrasts and I liked the shadows a lot. The composition is pretty straight forward, and similar to other paintings I’ve done. I also liked the roots hanging out of the trees over the carved out embankments.

After looking at the painting like this for many days, I knew I needed to make some big adjustments to the chromas and my atmospheric perspective. I don’t have a photo of the in between shot in which I adjusted the sky and road colors, but it helped a lot to do that and give myself several more days of evaluation.

Third pass

Here is where I stopped for today. I warmed up the focal point (back there where the road turns) so it appears the sun is warming that up quite a bit. I also pushed down and softed some of the distant trees. I still need to do more of that, but it’s coming.

I really worked on defining the shadows in the sides of the road where the road was carved out of the woods. The roots from the tree on the right are beginning to take on definition and I added a lot of branches and moved around and better defined the trees on the left. I also worked to develop the light shapes and dark shapes on that left “cliff” I also put in some solid shapes for the holly trees on the right.

And here are my notes for when I work on my next session. You may need to click on the picture and blow it up to read them. Over all, it’s coming along and I’m not unhappy with it at this point. I’m thinking two or three or maybe four more sessions… we will see.

Notes for next session

I’m playing around with a couple of possible titles: “Carved Out” is one of them. “Old Road” is another, or maybe just “Roots and Shadows.”

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