November 16, 2007

A sunny afternoon - WIP

Since I was fairly satisfied with my previous attempt at working loosely, I started another piece. This time too my goal was to work loose, do not define too many intricate details, but still manage to create an atmosphere with the piece. I felt this one turned out better than the previous one.

The reference image showed an overcast day, which I have kinda converted into a sunny day with some strong shadows. Here is a quick work in progress.

A sunny afternoon - stage 1
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

Firstly a rough sketch under 2 minutes. I heard from another painter that he prefers to directly start painting, no sketch whatsoever. That would give me a nightmare, as I prefer to have a sketch however vague it may be! I would be lost without one.

A sunny afternoon - stage 2
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

Then I do the clouds, just like the previous one. Colours used so far are only cobalt blue and titanium white.
A sunny afternoon - stage 3
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

In the pic above, I have done a red toned underpainting for the distant trees. I have done the foreground directly with some Viridian green and lemon yellow. I have also marked the darkest darks in the barn which will be from the shadows. Till now I had used only my 1 inch flat brush. I started doing the dried tree using the edges of the flat brush and went kinda mad with it. No matter how much I tried, I could not get the finer branches with it. I had to finally resort to my zero brush.

A sunny afternoon - stage 4 (c) Nithya Swaminathan

I have started with the barn, done more details on the foreground. And just started with the canal in the front.
A sunny afternoon - completed
Acrylics on Gallery wrapped canvas, 12 * 16 inches.
(c) Nithya Swaminathan
Original Available, email me for purchase info
Prints available here

Finally, I complete the image with finer details on the grass, and some more details on the water. Also, I have enhanced the depth of the canal where the land meets the water. And deepened the shadows in the barn and in the foreground.

As usual, here is a slideshow. I love!

This was done in about 2 hours, over 3 sessions. It is done on gallery wrapped canvas with the sides painted so that it can be hung without a frame. Thanks for viewing, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.

November 10, 2007

Art with a timer!

I have always been awestruck with painters who can work fast and convey all they want to with as few brush strokes as possible. Work that is actually impressionistic but looks real. I wanted to give it a shot, after some impetus by plein air painter Larry Seiler at Wetcanvas. Working loose would come naturally to Plein air painters, as they have to capture the moment on canvas before the light changes. It comes with a lot of practice, and gives a lot of life to paintings. In this approach, there is hardly any attention to detail, only the relevant things are highlighted and the painting draws the viewer in.

What I have just completed is my first attempt at working loose. The goal was simple - to paint without spending too much time thinking. Just let myself loose on the canvas. This painting was done in just under an hour, from scratch. It was done using only 1 brush, a 1 inch flat brush. It was weird to actually paint with a timer, as though I was writing an examination!

Generally, my attitude towards an Acrylic or Oil painting is very lethargic. I take my strokes for granted, coz deep inside is the lurking feeling that if things don't work out as I expect, I can always paint over it again. This is an effort to kill that attitude and make every brush stroke count. At every stage, I noted down the time taken for that stage, and everything was painted only once. No redoing at any stage and I am happy for that reason.

Here is a quick look at the painting from start to finish.

Green Landscape - stage 1
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

Seen above is the initial sketch, as roughly as I could. My sketches for landscapes are generally very vague, I do not follow the picture to the T, but this was more sketchy than I normally do. The sketch was done in under a minute.

Green Landscape - stage 2
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

Then I start with the skies, and in about 5 minutes, do the sky with some cobalt blue and white. Then randomly do the clouds as I please. A touch of crimson here and there.

Green Landscape - stage 3
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I then do an underpainting of the far away trees in tones of red. This is to enhance the effect of the greens which will be done on top of the reds. I have not marked values, just done a plain monotone underpainting. Another 2 mins spent there.

Green Landscape - stage 4
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

And then I started with the greens, did a green wash without much details in the foreground. There is no actual depiction of grass as yet. This was about 15 minutes.

Green Landscape - Acrylics on Canvas, 12 * 16 inches
(c) Nithya Swaminathan
Original available, email me for purchase info.
Prints available here.

And finally I complete the painting with more details on the grass, complete the reflections of the sky etc. Another 25 minutes spent. So start to finish was done in approx one hour. I wanted to finish this Alla prima, in one sitting, but it got spilt over to two sessions. So that defines my next goal - to finish a painting in less than an hour and in one session. I have put this WIP into a slide show, check it out.

It is a lot of fun working like this, it is very liberating since there is no time to think and I just paint. My mind doesnt ponder over what I should do, it is only a spectator. I love the whole thing, though I cannot say for sure if this will be a new direction that I will focus on. Let us see. I would love to hear your views on this. And since my readers already know how much I suck at titles for paintings, I would love to hear some title suggestions as well. I just could not come up with one!

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