Summer Isles

This is a first for me: an SAA challenge.  I always see these things in their Paint magazine, but never get around to trying one.  This "Artist Photo - You Paint It" caught my eye:

Photograph by Anne McGee

I love the subtle colours and shades, and the composition is good to start with.  As the deadline is 26th May, I had better do this one sharpish, but I'm betting on a couple of sessions to get it done.  Clearly oils for this one.

The general approach is simple enough: outline, block-in, detail.


That's the outline.  I'm only looking to place the major features, not to fill in details.  The blocking-in will erase any detailed lines anyway.  The outline was done by eye, staying true to the original.


Blocking in supposedly starts with the darkest blocks of colour (no highlights).  In this case I blocked in the bright blue then the dark islands.  This blocking in uses thinned paint that acts almost like a watercolour.  Oil paint like this is very greasy and spreads thinly, but is still pretty opaque.  I used titanium white with cobalt blue for the sky.  The islands used ultramarine with burnt umber.  I have nothing against using black if a painting needs it.  This painting does not need it.  Strangely, oils give much better darks than acrylics.  It's the pale colours that can be a bit trying.


Now the mid tones are blocked in.  Still no detail.  What I am looking to get here is the rough colour and tone distribution.  The paint is no more than a greasy smudge with no raised paint.


I am now starting to think about detail.  Some of the smaller clouds have been started, and I have worked some of the colours a bit further.  Mostly it's the sea.  I have added large splodges of colour for the reflected light - far more colour than I intend to leave it with.


I work various mixtures of hues into horizontal stripes that obscures the reflected blocks of light.  I am now starting to build up the paint on the canvas, but I'm limiting the amount the paint mixing.  If you look closely you will see the separate colours.  I then switch to the pinky clouds at the top and build up a mixture of crimson lake, yellow, titanium white and ultramarine.  I also build up the yellow/orange strip in the middle of the painting, increasing the amount of red towards the horizon.  Building up the paint allows for better blending.  Finally, I go back over everything, getting the edges and mistakes right.

That took about six hours to do.  I like the faster paintings.

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Summer Isles

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