March Wilderness – Oil Painting
Drawing an object in a landscape, such as a tree or a building, is difficult. There are so many things to consider, perspective, size, accuracy. Its not insurmountable, and with time and patience the object will be placed in the landscape and the next stage of painting it, will commence. What attracted the artist to the scene in the first place is what drives him/her forward.. But what about the scene with an area which does not have a recognisable shape, a ‘wilderness’ within the painting? Now this is a challenge, how do you paint – nothing?
When I started to paint landscapes this is what scared me the most. The scene with vast areas of emptiness, over which the eye would glide to arrive at the focal point of the scene. I was familiar with watercolourists applying a wash and allowing the flow of the paint and the texture of the paper to fill these areas with interesting shapes. In oil painting it was different. The option to use a 4″ housepainters brush was there, to cover large areas and allow the brush to shape the area. It never looked right for me. I always felt it looked like a ‘cop out’. An easy way to solve a difficult problem.
In previous posts I’ve mentioned learning the art of creating or taking advantage of apparent ‘random’ patterns. This applies principally in the painting of skies, but also to other areas as well. I find it a help to under-paint in a haphazard, crazy way to create as many ‘random’ shapes as I can. This is the part of the painting process when you are most alert and creative. But it is only the start of a long pilgrimage. Many artists do not go beyond this point and regard this stage of the painting as finished. And you know, sometimes the painting does look good at this stage. Personally, it would drive me mad if I had to look at it every day, ‘unfinished’. A bit like the ‘cop out’ I mentioned earlier. I think this about a lot of paintings I come across. Anyway, to return to the random patterns, traditional landscape is a hard and technical process. Its ‘industrial’ workings does sap the energy. These patterns I take advantage of later in the painting, when the pressure of painting reduces alertness.
In this painting the ‘wilderness’ is the left lower portion of the painting (as if you need to be told). Its a huge area relative to the overall size of the painting. The dark under-painting of multiple shapes and colours were a great help in creating a credible empty space. Following the contour of the land was the only rule. Not completely covering the under-painting is most important. The video (next post) will illustrate what I am trying to describe, which is impossible in words.
I still haven’t worked out the lighting problems of the videos (previous post), but the process will be understood regardless.