These are very traditional landscapes. Both works focus on the sky as a major element of the composition. A sure fire way to do this is to simply allocate less space for the foreground. Three quarters of the composition is sky. If we choose to divide our paper like this, we better make sure the sky is interesting! We have to deliver, so to speak!
I was trying to use the clouds as part of the design, arranging them in ways to lead the eyes into the painting. Notice how the size of the clouds also plays a role to invoke distance. Both linear and atmospheric perspective at work! A concept I speak about a length during my workshops.
Composition and perspective are often neglected in painting. Many passable painted works lack good design and therefore have little impact. Some of the key questions I always ask myself is: what am I actually painting? How do I arrange all the elements/ shapes? Where and what is my focal point? Is it all working?
Painting the sky is a two step process. I had to save the whites for the clouds where I planned them, therefore, the first washes can’t go over those areas. The initial warm grey for the clouds are part of the first wash. After all is dry, the second step is glazing in the darks of the clouds. I tried to make them look like they’re hanging over the mountain.
Overall, I am happy with the outcome. Sometimes, the most difficult thing is not to go back in, thinking I can improve this and instead ruin it!
I love painting rural scenes like farms and cows! California has plenty of both. If you ever visit areas like Petaluma, Sonoma and Mendocino county, you know what I mean.
California is a beautiful state, as long as you stay away from Los Angeles! The light on those bald hills in the countryside is especially dramatic during the ‘golden hour’, as we painters very well know! It is ironic that we are actually looking at burnt grass! It turns golden and it’s hard not to love…
Cows are a very good subject matter, I think. I am certainly not the first artist to be fascinated by them. They are very awkward looking creatures, but they’re also beautiful in their own right. One of the harder things when painting cows is how to group them. It’s easy to place them all in similar groupings, or worse, all with the same pose. I tried desperately to make them look ‘random’. Same with the sheep in the second painting. I think what’s happening sometimes when we paint the same shape over and over, we start copying what we just painted! Basically using our own painting as a reference. An honest mistake that we all do! It helps to be aware of it when painting groups of shapes! It doesn’t matter what it is, cows, sheep, trees, cars, people…