November 3, 2012

It's all about Relationships


A Word about Neutrals

This painting (Hakai Beach, 12X24", oil on canvas) contains a very limited and nuetral palette.  You may want to click on the painting so you can see a larger version of it.

The relationships from a color standpoint are very close together, which makes for trickier painting.
The green in the wave is not a pure green, but has been nuetralized by adding some red into the mixture, and the same is true of the other colors in the painting; they all contain, in various proportions of course, all three of the primary colors.

The green in the wave is the closest to a pure color, but would not stand out at all if not for the more neutral mixtures around it.

Setting up the Composition

I had worked on location and done smaller studies, but this painting was rendered largely with the help of a photo reference.  In the photo reference, all of the wave lines were very equally spaced - and although it appeared that way in nature, I knew it would make for a static composition so I changed, just slightly, the relationship of those spaces to each other.


Contrast makes for interest - I saved the hardest edges for the land mass, and the softest edges for the water.  Again, in a photo reference, the frozen action of the waves reads as hard, but in real life anything that is moving appears to have soft edges.  The waves would read as too "solid" if the edges were as hard as those used in other places.

Aerial Perspective

Notice the change in color temperature and tonal contrast as the land masses move back in space.  If the back islands were painted as dark and as warm as those closer to the foreground, the whole painting would flatten out.

Training your Eye

Here's the thing with rules around all the above elements of any painting....if you paint what you see, I mean what you REALLY see, all of this stuff automatically will automatically read correctly in your painting.

I will be holding a workshop at the end of the month that will deal with training your eye to see more literally.  The course is called "Skill Building Essentials for the Representational Painter".  We will work from life, and it is my fond hope that students will discover a whole new level of seeing that will catapult their painting skills.

 Please see the side bar for more information.  There is still some room in the workshop - email me with any questions you may have at

Happy painting, everyone!

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