This painting was commissioned by a couple who wanted something that would reflect the native forest to hang over their fireplace. They found my website and then visited my studio/gallery. They selected their favorite paintings and we discussed what they liked best about each one. I took notes so I could incorporate the features they particularly loved into a special painting for their living space.
We also discussed what kind of frame would work best for them, their space, and the painting. I sent them pictures of samples of frames to select from. They took exact measurements of their space so I could create a framed painting that would fit perfectly.
Here's my work space (above). I use two easels, side by side, to support the painting. I have track lights overhead to use at night or if it is too overcast. Otherwise, I like natural light and have plenty in the studio from large windows and skylights. I have a couple side lights to shine directly on my taboret and palette and one to shine on my reference material, as needed. In this case, for reference, I have two paintings (one is on the work bench on the left)and a photo of a painting that was adjusted in Photoshop to reflect the dimensions of the 24" x 36" panel.
The couple decided that the painting needed to be 24" x 36" with a 3" wide, mahogany frame. Incorporating everything we had discussed, I sketched out the painting on the 24" x 36", tinted panel with a brush dipped in a mix of oil, cerulean and magenta crimson.
I mixed a dark black using ultramarine blue and cadmium red medium with a touch of yellow. I never use a premixed black from the tube. The black is blocked in where ever there are the darkest darks in the scene. In this case, the creek bed. The bluff on the left has more cadmium red and yellow mixed in to give it the earth color of the soil.
The gulleys between the hills are painted in using various mixes of cerulean blue, magenta crimson, ultramarine blue, and cadmium red medium. I mix small portions at a time and dab it in throughout the painting. I like to "carve" out the hills with the paint before adding the trees. Using an anatomical metaphor, the initial sketch is the "skeleton", the hills are the "muscles", and the trees and leaves and branches and other details flesh out the "skin".
The background trees, mixed from cadmium red medium, ultramarine blue and lightened with a tiny bit of white, carve out the shape of the hills where they meet the skyline. Lighter snow shadows are mixed with the brighter cerulean to reflect the sparkling cerulean sky.
Here, I start to add the highlights to the snow on the hills. With lots of white, I mix a touch of cadmium red light, cadmium red medium,and a pinch of cadmium yellow light to make the warm highlights to contrast and pop against the cooler, blue shadows of the snow. I also add the major trees to the landscape.
For the sky, I mix a tad of cerulean with generous amounts of white putting the lightest value along the horizon line next to the trees.
I continue adding trees and more of the creek. I use leftover colors from the palette to indicate the creek bed with the earth tones and shale. I mix up the blue-green shale with the cerulean blue, a little bit of cadmium yellow light, and a touch of cadmium red medium, the complementary color, to grey it down.
The delicate beech leaves, bleached out over the winter, are mixed from cadmium red medium, cadmium red light, cadmium yellow, and varying degrees of white, with a touch of ultra blue, again, the complement to grey it down a bit. The beech leaves are worked over the landscape and particularly in the gulleys where they tend to concentrate. More trees and branches are added. The rushing whitewater is added to the falls of the creek and the ripples of the flowing water.
The painting continues to be adjusted, working over the entire surface as well as background and foreground and back again. I dance close in and back out from the easel, fine tuning the painting until I am satisfied with how it looks. Often I stop when I don't see anything left that "bugs" me!
As soon as I was done with the painting and, while it was still wet, I shot a photo of it, adjusted it in Photoshop to accurately reflect the colors, and emailed it to my clients. Knowing how computer monitors can vary in depicting color accurately, I invited them to buzz out to the studio to see the painting in person. Luckily, they live in the neighboring county and were able to come out the next morning.
As soon as they stepped in the door, they were ooohhhiing and aaaahhing and I knew they were pleased with the painting. They told me that when they saw the photo on the computer, it appeared to have more blue (no warm colors) and more purple blue than they preferred (they wanted warmer blues like cerulean). So they were ecstatic to see the painting in person and see that it totally met their expectations! I was thrilled, too!
Here is the finished painting:
"Hill Country in the Snowy Forest", 24" x 36", oil on panel, c. 2016, by Charlene Marsh, #032016 S 24x36.
And here is the painting installed in my clients' home! Looks absolutely fabulous! The grand windows to the left feature the same hilly, wooded topography depicted in the painting. The colors of the painting go perfectly with the decor and woodwork of the home. This painting is the focal point of the open concept living space and truly makes the heart sing in this home!
Thanks Doug and Saundra for trusting me to create a gorgeous painting just for your home!
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