This is a follow-up for the previous blog post on the importance of small plein air landscape in terms of color training. Below is the process and approach I take for small plein air landscape painting.

Small plein air painting demonstration

A photo of Taiwan’s northeast coast taken around mid-October in 2007. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon with some sunlight and light cloud cover.

台湾东北海岸一角实景,2007年10月中旬下午3:30左右,薄云,有阳光。

 

Block in:

For quick plein-air oil paintings I like to use Ultramarine for the initial sketch. The color melds in well with other colors so it doesn’t disrupt the depth of the composition even if some of it comes through at the end.

For the block-in, I often use a paintbrush with springy yet slightly stiff bristles. Here all I do is get the horizon, coastline and mountains’ general outlines down on the canvas. I also make a note of their spatial relationship.

起稿:

我画短期写生油画喜欢用群青色起搞,此色易与其它色融合,即使有些残留,也不会破坏空间的深度。

起稿时,我常用笔毛有弹性兼硬些的油画笔,只大略地把水平线,海岸线,山的大造型画出。并注意标示出前后关系。

 

Laying down the colors: Hills

Yim Mau-Kun plein air landscape

“Laying” means to spread out evenly. Painting is about shapes and colors. So here I am “laying” and “painting” at the same time. In other words, I am paying attention to the hills’ spread and consistency while balancing the foreground and background. Around 70~80% of all work on shapes and colors are done at this stage.

A hog bristle brush of medium width well soaked with paint was used here.

铺色:山丘

铺,是平涂的意思,画,是包含形和色的用笔‧在这里边铺边画,就是既注意山丘的大片性、连贯性,又照顾到前后区别,将色彩、造型一次画到七八成。

用中等宽度猪鬃笔,颜料要饱满。

 

Laying down the colors: Ocean

Yim Mau-Kun plein air landscape

I painted the far distance first, followed by the middle, then the front.

Bold strokes were used to lay down the colors without worrying about the details.

铺色:海水

先画远处,再中段,再前面。

大笔铺排,忽略细节。

 

Laying down the colors: Sky

Yim Mau-Kun plein air landscape

I began with the more blue parts of the sky, paying careful attention to their brightness relative to the water.

铺色:天空

从较鲜艳的天蓝色画起,注意与水的明度关系。

 

Laying down the colors: Clouds

Yim Mau-Kun plein air landscape

Here I “swing” upwards from the bottom of the sky. By “swinging” and adjusting the mix of colors as I went, this created a difference in depth between the top and the bottom. I don’t just paint across the sky with one particular color.

For the sky, I usually use a larger hog bristle brush. If I will be using a lot of paint, I mix up the gray tones for all of the different colors on the palette first. This gives me plenty of “ammunition” when I do finally put brush to canvas.

铺色:浮云

从天脚往上〝摆〞,要边调色边〝摆〞,如此,能造成上下有别的深远感。我不会调油平刷。

画天空,我通常用更大的猪鬃笔。颜料用得多,下笔前先在调色板上将那些各种色别的浅灰色调好,画时〝炮弹〞就充足了。

 

Finishing Up:

Yim Mau-Kun plein air landscape

Allow yourself some time for finishing up the painting at the end. Here I scraped away the clouds on top of the mountain and adjusted the shape of the waves.

整理画面:

最后,留点时间整理全画。            我刮去了山顶上方的白云,再调整了海浪的造型。

 

About Details:

Too much detail ruins a mini-landscape so only the necessary highlights should be included. Here we have the houses on the hillside, the shadow of the cliff, the breakwater as well as the waves in the distance and up close.

Here I used the word “embellish” because I want to emphasize the fact that details in mini-landscapes shouldn’t be “rigid”. Simply “hint” at it like in Chinese landscape paintings. This gives the details energy and interest. The brushwork is also important. If you “search” for just the right color every time before “applying” your brush to canvas, the brushwork itself helps to create the “details of the composition”.

细节点缀:

小画不能承载太多的细节,只要将必要而精采的摘要画出。如:山腰的房屋、山崖的暗影、防波堤的海岸和远近的海浪…….

我用「点缀」二字,是想说细节描绘在小画中不要拘泥于形似的「死抠」,要以如中国书法的〝点划〞般放上去。这样的细节在小画中才显精神,有趣味。笔触也是细节,只要你每笔都是〝寻找〞过颜色才〝放上去〞的,这些笔触本身也形塑了〝画面的细节〞。

For information about plein air landscape video lessons, please click here.
For information about plein air landscape painting books, please click here.