Sunday, August 11, 2013

Developing dynamic compositions in landscape paintings

I recently attended a one day class on landscape composition at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Atlanta Georgia.  The instructor, Barbara Jaenicke, is an accomplished pastel and oil artist.  The workshop, however, was open to artists of all media and drew artists who work in pastel, acrylic, oil and watercolor.  The focus of the workshop was blocking out dynamic compositions.  No finished work was created during the workshop.

Barbara did two demos to explain the concepts of blocking out dynamic compositions from photos, one in pastel the other in oil.  It was very interesting to watch an artist working in a media I have never work in.  Creation of composition and value sketches are the same for all medias.  The real difference between the medias is in the next step.  For both pastels and oils an under painting outlining the values (oils) or temperature (pastels) is created.  This underpainting is dark, and later layers will be lighter.  Underpaintings in watercolors are light, and later layers will be darker.

Over the course of the workshop I worked from three photos, one taken on the Isle of Skye, Scotland (photo to left), one taken at the John C. Campbell School, NC, and one taken while fishing a Trout stream near Asheville NC.   I developed pencil sketches diagraming the overall compositions and values.  The next step was to use the pencil sketches to create watercolor block sketches.  These sketches do not have details, just colors with the same values as the pencil sketches.

I used the Isle of Skye photo (above) to develop sketches for two distinct paintings.   One focuses on the water as it flows through the land.  swaths of land and water zig zag across the paper, drawing the eye through the foreground into the mountains in the background.

The other focus on the buildings sitting between the hills and the water.  The angular shapes of the land and water draw the eye to the buildings.

Barbara encouraged us to develop our sketches, and helped us focus on the compositions in the sketches and not jump into working on full paintings.  The small sketches are used to decide if the composition warrants a full painting, or needs some additional refinement.  I am currently working on watercolor paintings, based on these two sketches developed during the class.

No comments:

Post a Comment