As mentioned in the previous post, I painted a version of this scene a year ago. In the post which featured that painting, titled “Randomness – or so it seems”, I was talking about the issue of ‘apparent randomness’ in landscape paintings. It is a difficult concept to explain and now a year (and a 100 paintings) later I will ‘give it a go’ again, without going over the same ground. The natural world, which we try to create in a painting, is in a perpetual state of disorder. In the deliberate, ordered act of painting we try and portray disorder, which is then recognised as natural. This is almost impossible to achieve. We are programmed to put order on chaos. From an early age we are trying to ‘tidy up that mess’, now we are, as landscape painters, expected to celebrate the mess. This is the contradiction. The painter of natural landscape must convey a sense of disorder within the tight constraints of design and composition.
My method of achieving the sense of randomness is as follows. After the scene is roughly sketched in, I under-paint a series of shapes which are just abstract patterns without structure. As these are painted with solvent only, which evaporates quickly, they can be painted over. Depending on how vigourously the paint is applied, the new layer of paint will mix with or just sit on the under layer. As I compose the scene the under-painted abstract patterns can be used or ignored. The painting of a cloudy sky is where I use this method most. In this painting I also placed a series of diagonal lines in the sky, which look anything but natural until they are blended and then they produce an apparent random pattern.
I’m not sure if I’m getting the message across as this is both simple and complicated at the same time. Hopefully the following video will make it a little clearer. The early stages of the painting process does look like the actions of a crazy man and I hope the above ‘excuse’ for this behaviour will alleviate your concerns.
Here is the video. The actual painting time was about 1 hour. With fiddling around with the equipment etc, it was finished in about an hour and a half. So the speeded up video is about 7 minutes (7 mins. x 10 = 70 mins recorded time).