Summer Oak Tree

This morning I headed out to a local area filled with oak trees and trails, all of which surround a wonderful park.  I brought my Olympus OM-1 with me to shoot black and white film, and I also brought my cell phone to take pictures if I found something I thought I might like to paint.  Today’s painting is just that – an old oak tree in dappled light.  I don’t know what it is about trees and sparkling light, but I am certainly drawn to them.

First, here is the photo I took on my phone.  It was nearly noon, so the light was not optimal, but more than anything, I was interested in the light and shadows.

As I painted this afternoon, I decided to also record the steps I took as I painted.  My process these days is fairly straightforward.  I draw in the general shapes I want and then lay in some colors.  From there I move to values.  While I do this, I think about the order of the painting – where to apply paint first, what to over paint, and so on.  I go back and forth.  Click on one of the images below to walk through the sequence.  They are not the best pictures, but you get the idea!

I found recording the steps of my painting rather interesting – this is the first time I have done so with gouache.  It was a great way to look at what I was doing while letting the paint layers dry.  You need to pause a bit while you paint, whether it is to think, let things dry, or just walk away and clear the mind before picking the brush up again.

I’ve also started putting paint out on the palette as I paint, but before that, I consider the colors I want to use, why, and which ones will have priority.  Of course, all this is subject to change as I go along.  For instance, I had planned yellow ochre to be my only yellow, but soon added Cadmium Yellow Light as I felt I needed something more bright.

Palette included zinc and titanium white, Grey #2, lamp black, leaf green, chromium green, olive green, ultramarine blue light, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light, and burnt sienna.  I had also pulled out some cadmium red deep, but decided I didn’t need it after all.

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