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  • Writer's pictureLucy

Studio Landscape Experiments

You may recall dear reader that I planned on doing some landscape experiments in the studio to try out different techniques and find my groove before attempting plein air painting again. The idea was to use a combination of my plein air sketches and photographs taken on site to play in a safe environment (no bugs, no weather, etc).

Above is my first attempt.

Admittedly not great. It feels stiff, unimaginative, and overworked.

But it was my first. 😊

This is my second go.

Also not great--it has high chroma (color "right out of the box" i.e. no mixing or depth) and cartoon-like shading, but I am learning. It is looser albeit still overworked although the sky turned out pretty well.

Here is my third and, in my opinion, my most successful thus far:

To me this third attempt is the most painterly and the colors are richer--especially in person, the photo doesn't really capture it. To create it, the first layer was a complimentary color to the main color (in this example the main color was green so my base layer was red) and then added the darkest shapes/colors. Next I applied layer after layer of different colors until I reached the lightest shape/color. On that top layer I also allowed for my strokes to mimic the shapes of the trees often using the wide side of the pastel instead of the tip.

Using looser, more "raw" or expressive strokes is another technique that is working for these experiments. Even in the studio, landscapes have a feeling of urgency to me, as if I want to capture the scene before it changes too drastically.

Encouraged by the result of my 3rd experiment I decided to try a new subject matter--clouds. The New Mexican clouds are gorgeous--tall, billowing, and full of personality. What a tall order to paint! Here is my first attempt in progress:

And here is the final painting:

As a student at The Master's Atelier of Drawing and Painting I learned that it is helpful to find 3 things I like in my work and then name one thing I don't like. In this cloud painting I like:

(1) the sky colors,

(2) the dark within the cloud,

(3) the white highlights in the bottom right

The one thing I don't like? Well, I don't like how overworked the cloud feels. As if I tried too hard.

Which I did.

But it was my first cloud painting and I am learning.

Patience is a virtue and so is giving yourself permission to not be perfect. ❤️

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