Landscape painting has always been a bit of a mystery to me...I've battled with them on and off for many years. On occasion I feel like I have been to capture exactly what I'm feeling, and those pieces found new homes instantly, but other times I've struggled to utilize the vibrant colour palette and the simple, almost abstract shapes I love. I'm really enjoying this body of work and I think I may have finally figured it out. There are a few steps I've taken this time that I hadn't tried previously:
1. My brush is quite a large flat for the size of these canvases which means I can't get bogged down in details. Plus, since I'm working alla prima it means that I've just got to lay down the colour and move on.
2. I'm beginning the work at the top, in the sky, rather than beginning with the horizon line and this seems to keep me from creating really grey skies...so far.
3. I spent the past two summers sketching in pen and watercolour which has made me focus on shapes rather than my pre-formed ideas of a landscape. I've also been jotting down colour notes so that I don't get stuck on a photo which tends to flatten the colours for me.
4. I've been working on both textured and flat canvases which keeps the process interesting, therefore, once again I'm not getting caught up in the details.
5. Finally, I've been focusing on strong contrast which tends to be what excites me when I'm in the landscape. Dark tree lines, complimentary colours, changing skies.
But I do know that I prefer to do the thumbnail sketching while I'm out and about but still like to complete the work in my studio. When I'm removed from the subject matter I tend to loosen up. I have a few more small canvases to go and then it's onto large pieces...wish me luck!