Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lone Karri - plein air landscape revisited

Karri tree. Plein air landscape oil painting by Andy Dolphin.
Lone Karri. 
Plein air sketch. 25x30cm oil on board. 
© Andy Dolphin
SOLD

I took another look at the plein air painting of a Karri tree that I did last weekend. The original painting is shown above. As always, click the image for a bigger view.

I mentioned at the time that I wanted to adjust a few things and here's the revised picture.

Karri tree. Plein air landscape oil painting by Andy Dolphin.
Lone Karri. 
Plein air sketch. 25x30cm oil on board. 
© Andy Dolphin
SOLD

I gave the original picture a light coating of alkyd medium and rubbed it in with a lint-free cloth. This brings back some of the gloss that is lost when the paint dries, making it easier to colour-match. It also provides a better surface for retouching as the brush will slide easier over the wet medium and the new paint edges can be blended more easily.

There were three principal things I wanted to achieve.
  1. Enhance overall brightness and warmth
  2. More separation between foreground and background
  3. Fix some minor compositional problems
I began by adding more warmth to the lightest part of the sky and, using this as a starting point, lightened and brightened the distant hills and tree line. At the same time, I adjusted the large background tree to give it a better shape and stop it "kissing" the foreground tree.

I made minor adjustments to the light and shadow in the canopy of the main tree. I was trying not to get too fidgety here - always a risk.

The original plein air work was completed with a very limited palette or ultramarine, permanent crimson, burnt sienna and yellow ochre. In hindsight, I felt this one needed more saturated colour as we are just at the start of autumn and it was a very warm, clear day. So in the studio I added cad yellow deep, cad scarlet and permanent crimson to the palette. It only took a little of these colours, mixed with the three original colours, to add the vibrancy I needed in the foreground grass and the warm reflected light on the tree trunk and branches.

The warmth in the tree trunk not only helps to separate it from the cool atmospheric hill in the background, but also better depicts the reality of the scene on the day. The original painting, by comparison, now looks like it was painted on an overcast day.

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