Sunday, June 26, 2011

Forest Workshop

I enjoyed another great workshop yesterday at Terra Verde Gallery in Albany.

The subject this time was a Karri Forest. These are not the easiest things to paint but, once again, everyone did a terrific job in the time available.

Here's a small (20x26cm) reference I painted last weekend...

It's a fairly simple design and not without its faults - like the small tree being too close to the centre of the painting - but it did the job as a reference sketch.

Here's my demonstration painting from the workshop (the photography on these isn't great). I used a limited palette approach on this one to simplify the process a little...

forest painting workshop in oil

The major lessons here include atmospheric perspective and tonal contrast. While our minds will usually read a karri tree trunk as being somewhat pale, or "beige", it is actually quite dark except where the sunlight hits. You can see this in the greyscale image below. Note how dark the trunk of the main tree is against the sky...

Tones are relative to surroundings so the smoother bark on the tree is lighter than the rough bark and the shadowed foreground shrubbery but quite dark compared to other parts of the painting. You can also see how the shadow-side of the smaller tree is virtually the same tone as the background yet it stands out quite clearly in the colour image. This is where temperature changes get to work to differentiate objects.

Getting these tones right, especially in seemingly busy scenes like this, can present a challenge to the uninitiated. To be honest, it still tests me.

This simple graphic demonstrates the concept. The small grey rectangle appears to change tone but it is in fact just one shade of grey all over. It is the changing tones surrounding it that affect our perception of it.

Is it any wonder tonalism is such a challenge when our minds play tricks like this on us?

Here's some pics of the workshop gang hard at work...

Thanks again to everyone for making these workshops so enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Workshop - Forest

Gallery 500 have invited me to do another painting workshop for them.

Workshops run for around four hours on a Saturday morning and students paint along with me as I break down my process of painting sunlight into easily managed stages.

The techniques demonstrated suit either plein air or studio painting. While I paint in oils, the approach works equally well for acrylics.

This month's subject will be "Karri Forest " and the date is set for June 25th.

If you're interested in attending, contact Brad at Gallery 500 in Albany, WA.

In the meantime, here's another digital "seascape"...

(Wave at The Gap. 1500x900px digital. © Andy Dolphin)

I wanted something a little different to the usual seascape vista with beach and sky so I focussed on a single wave breaking along the rock wall of The Gap, near Albany.

It's a long way down from the lookout platform to the water and it's difficult to judge scale when the only references are the water itself and the massive wall of rock. I'd estimate this wave to be around two-three metres tall - it could even be bigger.

I'm particularly interested in the various surface textures of clear water and foam.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Before the Storm - Oil

Oil version of the digital painting I did a few nights ago.

(Before the Storm. 70x37cm oil on board. © Andy Dolphin)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Before the Storm - Digital Seascape

Following last weekend's seascape workshop, I had a taste for painting the sea, something I haven't done for a while.

Yesterday I grabbed my camera and headed to The Gap in Albany's Torndirrup National Park. This is a wild area where huge swells can appear without notice, even on the calmest of days. Yesterday was no such day.

As I drove down the road to the car park, I saw white water spouting up well above the rocks that top the gap. I'd never seen the water spray this high here before. I could also see towers of white water out to sea.

It was rough!

I wandered over the rocks from The Gap to The Natural Bridge and down toward the bay that lies to the west. The sea was white with foam, the air was wet with salt spray and the wind was whipping straight up the sloping rocks where I was standing taking photos. There was so much going on, and the waves were so much bigger than I've seen them here before, I didn't know what to take photos of... so I took photos of everything... lots of them.

I was wearing my sunglasses, not because it was bright - it was actually overcast - but to keep the salt out of my eyes. The scene was exciting but very grey, until I lifted my "sunnies". With bare eyes, there was a warm glow about everything except the deep water. The cloud cover was thin so the sun was having some effect.

Today I rummaged through the pics and borrowed bits from this one and that one to try and assemble a scene that conveys the feeling I experienced. From this, I did a digital painting in Photoshop...

(Before the storm. 2000x1057px digital. © Andy Dolphin)

I titled it "Before the storm" because there was a severe weather warning for later in the evening.

The painting is heavily influenced by the late E. John Robinson's famous seascapes. It's a style I've admired for years and I have his book "Paint the sea in oils using special effects" and two of his videos on the subject. His approach is sensible and straightforward. It makes a difficult subject much easier than it could otherwise be.

I hope to repaint this one in oils this weekend. I'll let you know how I go.