Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elka Park Rock and Leaf study

Hey everyone I have more work to post from my time with the Hudson River Fellowship. This time I decided to make a rock and leaf study. I pretty much set up right in the middle of a creek for this painting. My easel was in the water and I stood perched on a rock hoping not to be too careless and take a surprise swim. I choose this spot because all day it was threatening to rain and close by there was a bridge to take shelter under. This painting was originally supposed to be a grisaille study in Burnt Umber. Later as I got into the work It seemed to make more sense to paint it in full color.

The Scene of the Rock

Burnt Umber Wash-Drawing

I started the painting with a rapid wash-in drawing in Burnt Umber. This allowed me to get the general composition and placement of the subject. To shape the forms I took a clean brush dipped in mineral spirits to pull away the paint from the panel.

Pulling the Shapes of the Leaves

Reinforcing the Drawing

After pulling out the general shapes of the leaves with Mineral Spirits I continued to rework the drawing.  More carefully I went back into the painting with the Burnt Umber trying to realize the correct shapes and forms of the leaves.

The Finished Under Painting
I worked the Under Painting to the point where I felt I had enough information to guide me in the over painting. If this was to be a  gallery painting and not a study I would have spent more time in the early stage perfecting the drawing and better interpreting the tonal relationships.  

I spent a little bit of time premixing some of the major notes of color I saw in the rock and leaves. I don't always do this but for this I really want to control may values from getting out of hand.

First Application of Color

I really didn't have a solid plan of action on starting the color. I figured I'd start in the darker values of the rock and then see where that would take me.

Further developing the Painting

As I worked I found my direction slowly developed the painting. By starting on one section and then working on the adjacent pieces the painting started to take shape. 

More Developments  

At this stage of the painting I am still not too interested in the small details. I really wanted to focus on the major tonal and color shifts that where taking place. Once I have constructed the body of the forms I can then lay the fuzzy moss and varying edges.

Toning Shadow Areas

Transparently I applied more Burnt Umber to the areas that appeared to be cast in Shadow. I would later paint directly into this glaze to achieve a smoother transition from Light to Shadow.

Finished Lay-in of the Rock

Painting More Moss 
Along with painting the moss I started to introduce darker values into the shadows. I again painted the shadows transparently but this time using a mixture of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue Deep.

The Final Study


  1. Interesting study Brian with its vibrant leaves and the moss on the rock. Seems that you had a great summer with The Hudson River Fellowship!

  2. Thanks Pierre, I had a BLAST!!! It was quite a treat to paint with many talented artist for a month.