Painting an Urban Landscape in Oils
On the easel next is another large 3x5ft painting of my favorite street corner in Kamloops, 4th and Victoria. This drawing took 2 full days and you can probably see why! My theory is 'Get it right and then get Loose!' Perspective is imperative when doing a city landscape. I composed this piece first through my camera lens. I looked for light first and foremost and then balance then lines that can lead the eye in an around the painting. The hotel on the left along with the shadow are great elements to anchor this painting. The cars on the right stop your eye from running off the canvas and adds some interesting shapes. Details like people are drawn last which come from my 'People' file. I often use a zoom lens to take photos of people walking etc so I can use them later in paintings (hope they don't mind!).
I drew a graph on to the canvas and photo then used pencil to draw it and then went over all the main lines needed with a small paintbrush and Raw Umber. At this point because I've spent the time to 'get it right' I'm fully confident and ready to enjoy the painting process.
I'm always excited to paint this type of subject matter because of the story element in it! You can see in the photo there is lots of glowing light and beautiful colours that's going to make this painting really fun to paint.
Well its been a few days since I posted this painting. I have to be honest, showing your work and the progress made is putting yourself out there! Artists are there own biggest critic! I kept seeing things I wanted to fix before opening myself up to exposure lol!
Since the last blog I've painted in the North Shore suggestively, put more blue hues in the distant mountains (they were too purple and warm), glazed down the river value + background hills. Glazing is done using transparent colours with a medium (alykyd, Linquin etc). This can either cool, warm or put life back into dull areas. I then painted in the left hand corner. The left corner is in shadow and the photo is pretty dead and boring. Artistic license was needed for sure. I used purple (warm and cool) and then while wet added warm tones from reflected light. Seeing and translating is daunting sometimes!
I always have a vision of how I'd like things to turn out but it's sometimes through chance and error (maybe a little terror too!) I come to that point. All the areas in this painting will be revisited and adjusted at the end. It's very hard to take a good picture to share as the light coming from windows and lights really alters the true colours. This photo isn't exact but pretty close. Enjoy!
In the past few days I’ve blocked in the shapes of the foreground hills and then the city buildings. Working from photos is challenging because you don’t see near the amount of dimension and colour as in real life. As an artist the photo is only a launching pad of creativity for me. There was a time when I had to paint everything I saw along with all the details. It’s taken some time to free myself from photorealism. Impressionism allows the viewer to fill in details and become more immersed in your story.
While blocking in the two foreground hills, I made sure to add the most important recognizable details. I can come back and alters values later. Glazing transparent hues will push back areas like the distant fields. This can’t be done till the first layers is dry.
I hunkered down with some good music and painted in the city section. This painting is large enough where viewers would say ‘ Hey, there’s the Staduim!’ I had to actually be pretty detailed but tried to keep some painterly brush strokes while rendering it. By the end of the day after all that detail I felt compelled to grab a large brush and block in the large tree shape in the foreground! Phew that felt good!
Today, my head was in the clouds! We'll sort of, I drew the cloud shapes onto the canvas with chalk and then painted in the blue sky with cerulean blue + white near the bottom then cobalt blue + white higher up. You'll notice that closer to the horizon the blue is warmer and lighter. For the clouds I used cobalt blue, cerulean blue, quinacridone red, white and transparent red iron oxide to grey it down. I painted clouds from several photo references taken this summer. I have to be careful while driving as the ditch has hit my car twice now while 'seeing' paintings out the window!
Painting clouds can be daunting with all the different values and tones not to mention endless edges. I find keeping it simple and a little more impressionistic easier on the brain. I felt this painting needed some drama in the skies to balance the bold palette I'm using for the landscape.
Here is a photo of the finished sky and a video for you to enjoy.
Debbie Milner Lively- AFCA
I've been a professional artist for the past 20 years. I can say the journey has been amazing!