This blog is Part 2 in a series on Plein air landscape oil painting. To see Part 1, click here: Plein Air Landscape Painting in Oils.
I call this phase of the painting the Setup. In this phase of the painting I am trying to establish the most important elements of the composition.
I work on the big picture here and don’t focus much on details.
I want to lay in compositional details quickly, especially the focal point. The focal point or Center of Interest is important to the painting as a whole.
In the video below, you can see that I have worked out the composition of this painting. I have put in the Center of Interest and some other secondary compositional elements.
I work quickly setting up the composition, usually using ultramarine blue and turpentine. I dilute the paint into a very thin wash and then draw with a filbert brush. I usually use a No. 2, No. 4, or No. 6 filbert brush to do the drawing depending on how detailed I want the sketch to be.
I try to establish some sense of values in the sketch as well, from the darkest blue to the white of the canvas. If I want pure white in part of the composition, I can take a rag dipped in turpentine and then wipe away color as I see fit.
I work back and forth, adding and taking away color until I get the values and drawing all blocked in. I then let this sketch completely dry before I start adding the true colors of the painting.
So this finishes the setup phase of the painting. The composition is blocked in and some very basic sense of value has been established as well. Also, any details that may be important to the overall painting are now put in.
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