Monday, October 4, 2010

More on painting fall

A travel day today, I will post more about that tomorrow. I am typing this late at night and tired, so it will be brief. Here are a few more bullet points on fall paintings.
  • I like situations like this one where the light is shining into the scene and picking out the trunks and rocks, grasses in a high key. That gives me nice brightly lit structure in my trees.I can also get those deep values right behind those light trunks. I have written about "value stacking" where I place lights against darks and lights behind those. I try to find lots of ways to get Darks behind my higher key shapes.
  • When I set up I will ask myself,"where is the light going?" and I will look there for my subject. It usually makes bright paintings with lots of well lit elements to contrast with my foliage.
  • I like the fall colors over on the right. I find a lot of times the fall color is just to much. I like it when the foliage is the color of 500 dollar suits. I like the russets and golds.
  • Sometimes outside I am confronted with huge mountains sides of brilliant orange. Unless there is a barn or group of buildings for a major foil in front of it I walk away from those now. I have made lots of paintings full of screaming oranges and I am never happy with them when I get them inside.
  • I try to understate the foliage I will feed the complement into it or use more earth colors to paint it.
  • Sometimes I will paint all of the fall scene chromatically with cadmium yellow light, permanent red and cobalt blue. Those colors give a real clean and slightly blond look that is restrained yet "clear" that I like. The whole painting will hang together real well when I do this. Then I my add other colors from my palette as accents and incidental notes.
  • An Autumn painting is almost always going to be colorful enough, so I concentrate on the structure of things. I think solid form and tree architecture are more interesting than enormous masses of colors that I wouldn't find easy to live with for long in a painting.


billspaintingmn said...

Good post Stape. Your logic is all about making good paintings.

Your apples are safely in the kitchen. I picked them a week ago before I went to the lake. I didn't pick the hareldsons, and the wildlife took everyone of them.

(I had to try one or two, they are delicious! Honey crisp is the most popular apple around here.)

willek said...

Terrific posts, Stape. you are laying your thinking out there for all of us to pick over. Invaluable.

tom martino said...

I enjoyed the tips on fall painting. There was more info here on the ways autumn landscape and foliage should be treated than are found in most books on painting technique!

Patty Meglio said...

This is great information for us New England painters. I remember reading something in Richard Schmid's Alla Prima about painting the colors of autumn. His autumn scenes have nice warm colors, but they don't scream at you. He says that the autumn colors are not as brilliant as they appear.

Philip Koch said...

Speaking of autumn colors, I'm reminded of George Inness's work, an artist Stape has some acquaintance with (remember his enthusiastic series of posts on Inness from a few months back).

I think Inness would be a great example of Stape's point about concentrating on structure of the painting and the forms instead of worrying one's autumn colors might not be sufficiently intense. Most of the time Inness isn't all that colorful, but boy does he evoke the feeling of Fall. Artists like Inness show us so much about both power and about restraint. To bad he didn't have a blog like this one...

Debra Norton said...

My husband just came back from backpacking in the North Cascades and took some pictures of the blue-huckleberry bushes that are such a bright red it looks fake. I can definitely see that if it was painted true to the reds the viewer wouldn't see anything else.

I have a question I'm wondering if you can answer. How does Flake white handle compared to Cremnitz white? And do they dry at the same rate?

Thanks so much for your blog Stape, I read it every day!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I do so want to make good paintings!

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

There are some good books too, Carlson comes to mind.But there are lots of artists to look at who painted fall well.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I imagine he knows.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Inness seemed to know exactly how to handle fall color.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will have to find out for you. I don't know if I have ever used cremnitz.Flake whites dry well and rapidly, I would assume that would be true of cremnitz too.

Christopher Volpe said...

Gold ochre is a great tool for New England painters this time of year - it tones it all down and mellows things out. I've been thinking about you, Stape, looking at the colors and light this time of year - the still partly green part of autumn.