Thursday, June 15, 2017

Going from Pastel Field Sketch to Studio Oil


The June 2017 of The Artist's Magazine features my article on greens for the oil painter ("Going Green(s): Tubed and Mixed").  In the article, I show an oil demonstration in which I use just about every green from Gamblin I could lay my hands on—and that's a lot of greens!  The demonstration is based on a pastel plein air sketch I made while in Scotland a year ago.  The article shows the oil painting but not the pastel reference, so I thought it might be instructive for everyone to see both side by side.

Gamblin Greens

When I work in the studio from a field reference, I often switch media.  If I painted the reference in oil, I may do a studio version in pastel, and vice versa.  I'll also scale up the work.  The pastel reference in this case is 9x12, whereas the finished oil painting is 12x16.

Here are the two paintings in a larger size:

Pastel Field Sketch 9x12

"Highlands Cottage" 12x16  Studio Oil

(Both the sketch and the studio oil are for sale, either together or separately.  Please let me know if you are interested.)

I rarely try to make an exact copy of the reference, and you can see some differences, though subtle, between these two paintings.  My primary goal was in using as many tubed greens as I could without mixing to maintain the purity of the color.  My secondary goal was to make a few adjustments with scale, value and intensity of color.  You'll note that in the studio oil, the distant shadows are lighter in value, which helps with the sense of depth; the rich browns in the foreground have been eliminated so that the eye pays more attention to the mountains and not to the stream; and the cottage has been reduced in size to make the mountains more impressive.

It's always dangerous to show a photo of the actual scene—we painters always make changes to it, whether we mean to or not—but I thought that might also be helpful.  What we change is the subject of a future post.

Location photo:

Near Glencoe, Scotland


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