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Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

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Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:23 am

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 1
Most of my nature paintings are of scenes outside my home state of Florida, either in the Appalachians or other far off, but equally appealing locales. However, there are some very beautiful natural areas here in Florida and I decided it was time to do a painting of one. A few weeks ago I was looking through some photos I had taken while boating on the Withlacoochee River. There were two that were appealing, but one offered interesting reflections, perspective and depth, as well as a mix of trees and grass that I liked. It looked like a good start.
The scene was interesting, but I wanted I wanted to bring more life and motion into it. What better way than to introduce some native birds – egrets. I found some photos of egrets in flight on the web and downloaded a few in various flight configurations. I then copied them and inserted them into the original photo, moving them around and changing their sizes to see what patterns I could come up with. I varied the sizes and positions of the birds to make the overall composition more interesting. To introduce a focal point or center of interest (COI), I greatly enlarged one of the birds and placed it near one of the sweet spots – near the intersection of two lines that divide the picture area into thirds both vertically and horizontally. A few of the compositions seemed promising. Although the latest compositions seemed to be getting closer to what I wanted, there still seemed to be a problem. The converging lines of the trees and water, as well as the line of birds, seemed to draw the eye off the painting to the left side. Something was needed to stop the eye from passing off the painting. I thought that a grouping of trees on the left would help. I looked online once again for cabbage palms (sabal palmetto), one of the iconic trees of the Florida wetlands. I found some and, again, downloaded the photos, and copied them into the compositions I had settled on. I moved them around, altered their sizes and proportions and fitted them near the left border. It seemed to improve the composition.
I now have two compositions that look pretty good). One shows the center of interest higher, with the trees as backdrop. The other shows the center of interest lower, with the wing breaking the line of the water. The higher center of interest is near the middle of the photo vertically, the lower center of interest is closer to the bottom third line – closer to the “sweet spot”. It seems to improve the composition a bit more but there still seems to be something a little off. The center of interest is now low enough but seems to be a bit too far right – too close to the right edge. So, I move the bird over left a little, nearer the converging lines one third of the way up from the bottom and one third of the way in from the right. Ah, that looks better). The center of interest looks a little bit too large, so I make it just a little smaller. I like the change.
Now, I want to see how the values look, so I convert the photo to black and white, then blur everything to simplify the shapes, and deal mostly with values. Everything seems good. The birds seem to show up well, the grouping of cabbage palms keeps the eye from wandering off the picture, the birds are of different sizes and configurations, as well as positions, and there is one bird set off by size and position as a center of interest. That bird is near a “sweet spot” and its white body contrasts sharply with the dark background. As a final manipulation, I blur the color photo to simplify the colors. Once again, the birds show up well, especially the center of interest, whose white color contrasts well with the green background.
All I have to do now is develop a color sketch so I know what colors and color combinations I’ll be using. I’ll discuss that next time.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby ehoeveler » Sat Jul 11, 2015 4:28 pm

I know this will be another winner by you, Richard!
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:17 am

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 2
For the color sketch I used a blurred version of the final composition I put together on Photoshop Elements. The blurred version was posted here last week as the color sketch. I’m going to do this painting in colored pencil, so my next step is to figure out what colored pencils to use. There are many ways to come up with the colors seen in the photo. Many possible combinations. I also don’t have to come up with an exact match but I do have to come up with combinations that look good together. I like the combinations seen in the color sketch, so I tried to match them as close as I could.
As I’ve done with all my paintings, I made up a color test sheet to find the combinations of colors I like for various areas of the painting: the sabal palms on the left, the sky, the water, the background trees, the trees on the right, the grasses and the birds – all of the major blocks of color. There are smaller areas that don’t show up in the color sketch that have special colors and those can be worked out as I go through the painting. I just want to get the main areas figured out now.

For the sabal palmettos on the left I’ll be using mainly chromium green opaque (Faber Castell - FC) and cadmium yellow (FC) and green ochre (Prismacolor - P). The sky can be duplicated with cloud blue (P), sky blue (FC) and blue slate (P). The water, which is a reflection of the sky and trees, can be cloud blue (P), sky blue (FC), cobalt blue (FC), chromium green opaque (FC), cadmium yellow (FC), chrome oxide green (FC), chartreuse (P) and crimson lake (P). The crimson lake, added to the chrome oxide green will produce the darks greens and near blacks of the trees and reflections. The lighter areas of the near trees are chromium green opaque (FC), chrome oxide green (FC), chartreuse (P) and cadmium yellow (FC). The distant trees are chrome oxide green (FC), chartreuse (P), cobalt blue (FC) and white (FC). The grasses and herbaceous plants look to be chromium green opaque (FC), chrome oxide green (FC), chartreuse (P), white (FC) and cadmium yellow (FC). I’ve decided to do much of the birds in French greys (P) and dark sepia (FC). The beaks seem to be combinations of cadmium yellow (FC), burnt ochre (FC), yellowed orange (P), goldenrod (P) and raw umber (FC).
These colors are the main ones I think I’ll be using. They’ll give me a good base with which to work. As I go through the painting I may need to add others.

I can now start on this painting and I’ll begin by laying in the sky.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:31 pm

Richard, you are insane. Congratulations. I hope there comes a day I can join you. As I understand modern mythology, all great artists are insane.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:35 pm

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 3
I’m going to do this painting entirely in colored pencil. The size will be 22” by 13”, and I’ll be using Stonehenge paper. The first step was to transfer the pencil drawing to the paper. I then started on the sky first.
Although it looks simple, the sky color is not. The value is darkest on the left and at the top. The value progressively lightens downward toward the horizon and toward the right side of the picture. Sky color normally becomes more intense toward a point directly overhead, being lightest near the horizon. The sky color gets progressively lighter toward the sun – in this case, toward the right. I wanted to keep those characteristics in this painting.
I used three colors for the sky – sky blue (FC), cloud blue (P) and blue slate (P). I started off by putting in a uniform layer of sky blue (FC). I carefully worked around the clouds and trees, including “sky holes” in the trees where I thought they would work. After the sky blue layer, I put in a layer of cloud blue uniformly over the same area I previously put in the sky blue.
Next, I started back over the previous colors with blue slate, starting on the left side. Since I wanted a gradual fade-out to a lighter color toward the right and toward the bottom, I gradually decreased pressure on the blue slate beginning near the uppermost clouds, and continued fading it toward the right, and also faded it out downward toward the tree tops.
By this point the color is beginning to intensify. I started another layer of cloud blue, starting on the right and worked toward the left. This will be a uniform layer over the entire sky. I’ll see how the coverage is after this layer and decide whether to add an additional layer of cloud blue before touching up with all three colors to finish off the sky.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:23 am

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 4
The sky is complete (for now) and I’ve started on the distant trees.
I finished up the layer of cloud blue, moving from right to left. After that I went back over the area of the sky where there is a transition to a lighter value. The transition wasn’t uniform enough, so I touched it up with blue slate to make it a bit more gradual.
The clouds next received some attention. Using the cloud blue I added more structure and volume to them, putting in shadows here and there. I’m going to leave them for now, and maybe do more work on them later. I’ll decide how much more detail is necessary by looking at them in relation to other objects around them when the painting is more completed.
The distant trees are important because they contrast with the birds. I have to be careful how much detail I put into them because they could begin to compete with the birds. I want them to show off the birds by serving as a darker backdrop. The way I approached the trees was to block in the shapes, without any real detail, getting the values and colors as close to the color and value sketches as I can. After blocking the trees in I can start back over them, putting in detail slowly, until I’m satisfied. The distant trees were blocked in with chrome oxide green (FC), chromium green opaque (FC), yellow ochre (FC) and Tuscan red (FC). The Tuscan red, combined with the chrome oxide green, gives really dark values for the deepest shades. I changed the palette a bit from what I had decided on originally, adding the yellow ochre and deleting the chartreuse and white (so far). The warmth of the sun on the trees comes through more in the color sketch than in the photo, so I felt the yellow ochre worked better than the chartreuse, which is a cooler color.
Now that the distant trees are blocked in, I will go back over the area and begin adding some detail.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:29 am

Just love seeing your progress posts.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:38 pm

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 5
This past week I worked on the large mass of tree on the right side. I wanted to get them in because I was getting too fixated on the distant trees and wasn’t sure if more detail was necessary. Composition principles told me those distant trees should be ambiguous and indistinct but, without anything else on the paper, they took center stage. I had to remember they would be backdrop to more important and closer objects. So, I left them with suggestive detail and decided to work on objects closer up. I knew that once closer and more important objects were rendered, the distant trees would recede from importance – and that seemed to happen as I put in more and more of the closer and larger mass of trees on the right. Even at this point, having put in about half of the trees, attention is drawn away from the distant trees and they become more of a backdrop.
The first step to painting in that large grouping of trees was to very roughly, and very lightly, block in the important light and dark masses within the larger mass of trees. I used the color sketch as a basis. The darker areas were roughly filled in with chrome oxide green (FC). Once the darker value areas were mapped out I colored in the lighter masses with chartreuse.
Next, I started working small sections, slowly refining the shapes of each by adding more and more detail, filling in more color, strengthening the values. To make the darkest shadows I mixed tuscan red (P) and chrome oxide green (FC). For the lighter values I added chromium green opaque (FC) and naples yellow (FC) to the chartreuse.
I’ll continue in this manner, working from rough to detailed, completing sections at a time, until the entire mass of trees on the right is finished.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:22 pm

I have started another collection of six paintings. I have studied your methods and techniques. I have read your comments. Thank you for sharing. I am excited in trying to do it your way. Well, as much as my patience will allow. Do I have your permission to post them In this forum. I know this is a strange request, but since I called you insane, because you have to be insane to do art work as great as you do, I thought I would try it. Although I may be eating my own words by assuming I can kind of do it your way, I am asking to join the master
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:18 pm

I feel honored that you think enough of my methods that you would like to use them to produce your own paintings. As you can see I use the same thought process to produce all my paintings. It is the same process that I teach students taking my art classes. I find it helps me to plan out and develop a painting. There is still plenty of room for spontaneity and creativity in the process, but it allows me to think through the basic tenets of good composition in an orderly fashion from the idea stage through to the completion. I don't always come up with the best possible painting, and many times I see things in the finished work that could have been different, but I feel I've tried my best each time I've sat down to create. You have my permission to try it my way. I hope you benefit from it. Keep me posted as to your thoughts as you pursue my process. Thanks for the comments.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:51 pm

Thank you Richard. Knowing that I will no where come near to recording my thoughts like you, I shall try none the less. I will soon be posting the "Mile 34 Collection" in the fury forum. That forum gives people the freedom to say what they want. Well, cussing me out is not to good of an idea. But I can take harsh critiques.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Sun Aug 09, 2015 9:58 pm

Hi Richard. I have started posting in the 'Mile 34' post in the fury forum. Take a peek whenever you want to take the time.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:55 am

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 6
This past week has been very busy and I’ve not gotten as much done on this painting as I would have liked. I’m teaching some colored pencil classes and that has taken up much time. Also, my constant companion, Peaches, our wonderful Cocker Spaniel, is nearly 15 years old now and requiring more of our time. We’ve shared many adventures, many trips to the mountains, and hiked many trails together. She’s gone just about everywhere we have. Since my retirement we’ve spent just about all our waking hours together. My wife and I are devoting more time to her now, for her appetite is diminishing and we’re exploring all kinds of food options to coax her into eating more.

On to the painting.
So, at this point I’ve nearly finished the tree mass on the right side – all except for the details on the foliage that’s catching sunlight. After roughing in the light and dark areas I began layering in the dark shadows. To do this I alternated chrome oxide green (FC) and tuscan red (P). To keep the area from being solid black I made irregular patches of Tuscan red. These areas, when combined with chrome oxide green formed the deepest shadows. Areas without the last layer of tuscan red were not quite as dark and suggested foliage in shade but not deep shade. This adds a bit of three dimensionality to the structure and keeps it from appearing flat. Here and there I added a bit of chartreuse (P).
Next I’ll finish up the foliage masses that are catching sunlight. After that, I think I’ll start work on the palms on the left side.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:30 am

Coming along well, as usual. I never thought about red over green to darken it. I shall try that.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:40 am

Complementary colors combined produce grays. Strong complements, like red and green, produce black. They work better than using black, which can tend to be flat. Blacks produced by complements are more vivid.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:57 am

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 7

I’ve completed the smaller foliage masses catching sunlight within the larger mass on the right side. To add more definition and make them appear more real, I further defined the edges by working dark color along mostly the top edges where the sun strikes them the hardest. Here, I worked in naples yellow (FC) here and there as the brightest spots among broader chartreuse (P) areas. The more shadowed lower areas contained more chrome oxide green (FC) and even a bit of Tuscan red (P) in the deepest shadows. There was very little attempt at uniform blending because the splotchy, irregular juxtaposing of tiny lights and darks gave a more realistic feel for leaves. By adding multiple layers and pressing hard with the pencils, color intensity and density was maximized and very little of the white paper showed through. I was also careful to use crisp, sharp strokes to define the edges of the Spanish moss hanging from the tree limbs. Gentle curves to the moss gives the feeling of breezes acting on them. The moss still has to be finished up by adding some color and shading, but I’ll add that at a later time.
My attention now is on the palms at the left side of the painting. The first task at hand was to lay in basic colors, lights and darks, shadows, and get a feel for the grouping of trees. Using multiple photos of palms as reference, I blocked in the palm fronds, both living and dead. Here, I added a few more colors as I felt they were needed. For the green, living fronds I used limepeel (P), chartreuse (P), chrome oxide green (FC) and a bit of chromium green opaque (FC). I used the chrome oxide green quite a bit to draw in the darker, shadowed areas. Doing so, defined the lighter areas. In the darkest areas I added burnt umber (FC) and dark sepia (FC). The dead fronds do add some interest to the foliage mass and I consider them important in portraying realism and providing contrast to the greens of living fronds. Here I used ginger root (P), raw umber (FC), burnt umber (FC) and some dark sepia (FC), as well as cream (FC).
In adding in the palm trees, all I’m interested in at this stage is to rough them in, get the lights and darks in and get a feel for the structure. I try always to work from lesser detail to greater detail – block in structures and then refine them. This way I get a feel for the overall form and how the parts fit together to produce that form.
From here, I will start working toward greater and greater detail and color intensity and density.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:11 am

Nice. How often do you sharpen your pencils?
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby RichardDevine » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:32 am

I sharpen pencils every minute or two, especially when I'm working on details. Broad areas with little detail such as sky may require sharpening every 3-4 minutes. When I don't feel the pencils digging in, I sharpen the.
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby ehoeveler » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:10 pm

Richard, Thank You for the exquisitely detailed process as always - I am LOVING the foliage. E
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Re: Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 1

Postby CarlOwen » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:09 pm

Thanks Richard. Been a little busy on this side of the Mississippi. And, ah yes, I do understand the digging in of the pencil point comment. So much of what we do is not just visual. The visual is the end result of contemplation, observance, experimentation, feeling the vibration of the brush. flipping it from pencil hold style to fist grasp and back to the pencil hold.

There are times I have two brushes in one hand and three in the other hand striking the canvas back and forth. I have to admit I am finding it difficult to adhere to your painting methods. But I do see that the technique of painting determines the end result. The question for me now is how do I empower beauty with passion while organizing chaos into a coherent recognizable presentation of form universally accepted as on object of beauty. I am not that good; yet. I have to mull that over for a bit. So, going to work on Mile Marker 34 now.
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