Artist Laurel Daniel ("Oil Painting for Beginners") shared her process for oil painting, Hill Country Fence. Take it away Laurel!
One of the best things about painting in rural areas, is being able to spend time in those places. With this piece, I wanted to convey the peacefulness I feel when I get out in the country. For me, the pastures and wire fencing convey a distinct quietness and separateness. I love being able to take it all in, and store up those feelings for the busyness of my everyday life.
Below is a scene from a demo at a recent Texas workshop. It is classic Texas Hill Country, so it spoke directly to the time and place of where we were. What caught my eye was the way the rustic fence line leads back to the tree mass, in simple one point perspective.
I love it when nature offers me compositional elements like that. As considered what to include, I eliminated some the details in order to keep my focus clear (the cattle, power lines, and fencing in the background). It can be hard to let things like that go… we want it all. However, putting it “all” in doesn’t always make for a great painting. In this case, I was going for simplicity.
Here are the steps I go through.
Step 1 (above): Compose and block in large shapes and values. I use a dark neutral mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna.
Step 2 (above): Mass-in upright planes - shadow family.
Always work dark to light, thin and dryer in early stages (to thick and juicier in final stages.)
Step 3 (above): Mass-in upright planes - light family
Step 4 (above): Mass-in ground plane and sky
Adjust values to cooler and lighter as they recede (color and contrast weaken in distance)
Step 5 (final piece- above): Break up masses with subtle shifts in value
Final marks - Save details (like the fence) and highest highlights to the very end.