Friday, February 9, 2018

Discovery Park- Plein Air to Studio Painting

I recently completed a studio landscape of a view in Discovery Park, Seattle, WA. This post shows my painting process and how I used various plein air studies to create the larger painting.

September Sunset, Discovery Park, Oil on ACM Panel, 12 x 20, 2018

Last September 10, 2017, I painted at a spot in Discovery Park I had never painted from before. I noticed that the tall grass had been cut in one area surrounded by hedges and I decided to check it out. I really liked the view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains framed by the trees to the left and right. I decided to set up on a little slope among blackberry bushes.

This is how the view looked at 5:50 PM as I was setting up my pochade box. I immediately got to work sketching out the composition on a 8 x 10 panel.

An experienced plein air painter knows how the light can rapidly change this time of day. At 6:20 PM the light and shadows were looking nice.

This is what I had at that point- composition worked out, shadows established, and washes of local color started. At this point I waited a bit until the light got even better. That's what I often do when I'm painting this time of day. Earlier in the session I have my composition worked out, basic forms painted, then wait for the brief moment when the light is beautiful.

Often as I'm painting in public places it's interesting to hear the conversations people have as they pass by. Some of them are hilarious. On this afternoon I heard a boy who must have been 5 or 6 say to his mother, "So you're telling me that sharks don't live in water?!" His mother was equally irritated as her son replied," That's not what I said! I said that sharks are not living in water here at the park!"

At 7:44 PM this is how my session ended. I had enough information to take back to the studio and work with.

Discovery Park Sunset Study, plein air painting completed in the studio from memory, oil on masonite panel, 8 x 10, 2017

A few days later on September 16 I completed refining the plein air study in the studio, working from memory and my imagination. The painting is mainly about the light I observed and I moved a few bushes changed the forms of the trees a bit.

I liked my plein air study and I wanted to turn it into a larger studio painting. Using a 12 x 20 ACM panel I wanted to make the composition wider. I began this last November, blocking in an underpainting. It sat untouched for a few months because I was occupied by other projects.
The underpainting

I decided to continue working on the painting on January 19. Using James Groves Copal Gelling medium I started the over painting. I changed up the composition moving trees and eliminating bushes. 

As you can see I changed the shape of the trees to the left and right. I also began painting figures into the composition. 

On January 26 I completed the painting. Comparing the light in my plein air study to the studio painting you can see I went for a golden yellow/ orange glow. The light at Discovery Park is beautiful when it looks like that and that's what I wanted to capture in my painting.

I posted the painting on Instagram and one of my followers told me, "You did a great job capturing the beauty of this park. This is where me and my husband had our first date almost 12 years ago. Thank you for sharing!"

That's what my landscape paintings celebrate- the beauty and our connection to these places we love.