I recently found your website and was excited to read all the great info you have on Fredric Church and the other Hudson River Painters. Per your webpage, I would like to ask for some assistance as I am a beginner artist and may have bitten off more than I can chew. I have been commissioned by my parents to paint a replica of Church's Scene on Catskill Creek to save them some cash and add a personal family touch to the painting they will be hanging in their new room. Problem is, I really can't find anything on his technique! I learned to paint watching Bob Ross on Saturday mornings and have since deviated very little. Now I have this huge commission to do and don't really know where to start. What colors did he use, what technique, are their videos or resources to teach the Hudson River Style? Please help me make at least a decent attempt at this work as I will never stop trying and would rather not spend a lifetime and fortune figuring out
what NOT to do.
Thanks for you time and love the site!..........................Thomas Bowdler
This is going to be nothing like Bob Ross, throw your television away. This is not an impossible project for you perhaps the equivalent of building a piece of fine furniture in your basement with hand tools. Ambitious but not extraordinary providing you go at it in a measured, patient and reasonably worksman like manner.
You should reasonably expect to spend a lifetime and a fortune learning to work in Churches technique. I know of no video or single book that could teach you. There is a group of painters meeting in the summer every year under Jacob Collins studying this kind of painting. They are a select and elite group. They all had extensive training and experience before they showed up. I think it better to try to get you through this project which is a copy, rather than your imagining to be able to work in actual Church technique. Here is what I think you should do (bullets please)
- You ABSOLUTELY MUST have a print the same size you are going to work!!! There are many online poster sellers who can provide you with that. If you try to do this from a little picture in a book you will crash and burn. Disregard this and you are doomed to failure.
- Church had some colors that are no longer used and you don't need them. I suggest,
- titanium white
- yellow ocher
- ultramarine blue
- ivory black
- viridian, Not a hue, not Pthalocyanine
- burnt sienna
- burnt umber
- cadmium red light
- alizirin permanent
- Put a sheet of plywood in your easel large enough to hold the print and the painting you intend to make side by side so that you can stand back and see the two together. They need to be on the same level and the same size.
- Grid the print lightly with a pencil into 4 inch squares, grid the canvas the same way. With a pencil draw out the contents of each square onto your canvas. Get this right! Every hour spent on this will save three later.
- Spray varnish or krylon gently. Don't let it get too wet with varnish. Put on a dozen misty coats allowing it to dry between each one. If you hurry this at all you will destroy your pencil drawing. Get a good seal on that.
- Work the entire image up in a monotone using the burnt umber and Liquin. Do this carefully and make the entire image, finished, in this monotone. Use no white. Use transparency to get the lightest passages.
- Color the image with the other colors working transparently when you can and opaquely when you must. It might be good to put a sheet of plastic over the print so you can actually "check" your colors on it to see if they are correct.
- Frequently check your work with a mirror, that will help you spot any errors.
- Resolve to copy the print as exactly as you can in all of its particulars. Don't give up until it is right. This is a fine training project for you and should be within your ability to do, provided you don't rush it or shortcut any steps along the way. Good luck with that.