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Oil Painting Lesson Step 6

Saturday Apr 24, 2010

To start the lesson follow the steps below:

Read Introduction on Landscape Oil Paintings

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 1

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 2

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 3

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 4

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 5

Follow Oil Painting Lesson Step 6

Step 6

The final touches are done with the palette knife. They can be just as important as the preceding steps, but they are somewhat easier to do and, for many people, a lot more fun. Thus far we have learned how to paint a competent landscape. Now, if you can manage to introduce an utterly original or utterly exquisite little highlight, your finished product will be all the more effective.

The most important thing to remember is that if you decide to include a little animal or a person, not much in the way of detail is required. To put in a human figure the merest of outlines will suffice. Simply sketch in three lines with your knife edge. One vertical will do for the body. Jutting out from this vertical, two more lines at opposing 30° angles can represent an arm and a leg. It’s just that easy to render an effective profile.

And yet these modest little highlights can make all the difference between a mediocre painting and a great one. It’s not what sort of highlight you include, but how and where you include it. Let us assume that there are trees on either side of your landscape. Both trees seem to dip in towards the middle of the canvas. If you’ve placed your person squarely between them, a most dramatic symmetry may be achieved, regardless of-how crudely drawn the figure.

We have already made the point that there is really no limit to how much depth a good landscape should contain. Look carefully around your painting. Does any stretch of sky or grass or water still seem dull? Is any of it sickeningly reminiscent of a kindergarteners finger painting? After all your work and enthusiasm is your masterpiece as flat as a pancake? In other words, does it stink? Don’t despair! There is always time for last-minute touch-ups. Perhaps all that dabbing we did with knife and toilet paper was ineffective. So then do some more! Lightly apply the tips of the toilet paper, just as before. A little yellow here, a pale red there and-poof!-our wan damsel’s a ravishing beauty!

These then are the steps by which any reasonably competent student can complete his or her own landscape. Before I recapitulate these steps in brief outline, I would like to make a few final points.

First, don’t be afraid if your wrists ache for some time afterwards. I’ve been painting for decades, and to this day I still cramp up. To ease the pain, pretend you’re a famous baseball player and your hamstring hurts you. In other words, take pride in your pain, as if it’s an outward sign of your professional accomplishment. Besides, haven’t I told you that the world expects you to suffer for your art, or else you won’t be regarded as much of an artist? Well, tell your friends and customers what hell it is just to pick up a palette knife after our muscles worked so hard painting.

Oil Painting LessonSecond, don’t forget to sign your work. But think twice about how you want your signature to look. Toulouse Lautrec used to draw his name as if it were a Japanese pictograph. In fact, I’d go so far as to say his signature vas a work of art in itself. But if you’re also interested in money-and Toulouse-Lautrec, for one, never had any-I suggest a bold hand that leaves no doubt as to who you are. V1y own signature usually covers a full eighth of the canvas on the lower right. My customers find K-A-T-Z spelled big and clear. Of course, if your name is longer, your signature will have to be smaller.

And third, after you’ve done a landscape or two, go to the museum and compare them to the masters. You’re liable to be surprised by how well you’ve done. No, you’re probably not as good as Monet, but you’ll see that you’re at least good enough to learn from what he’s done.

Notice Monet’s use of light, for example. See how the very substance of his massive solids seems about to evaporate in the atmosphere. Or study the great American landscapist George Inness. Concentrate on his greens. Stare at them as long as you can. The more those amazing shades he uses glue themselves to your consciousness, the more chance you’ll have of someday being able to recreate them yourself.

Then look at the way Claude Lorrain or the Dutch masters insert small people or animals. Often they’re incredibly inelegant, perhaps no better than the ones you’ve painted Yet see how those faint creatures can transform the vast terrain.

Every time you paint a picture you add something to the great tradition. And that tradition exists for you to learn from. It can have no greater or more important purpose f than you.

Finally, for your convenience, here are the six steps for painting a landscape:
1. Use the flat of your palette knife to coat the whole canvas with an over-all abstract schemer. Greens and blues should be prominent.
Using the tips of a piece of toilet paper dab up and down lightly to lend this abstract greater depth.

2. Use the flat of the palette knife to spread a horizontal schemer of black or dark paint across the middle of the canvas.
Soften the color of this schemer by flecking its edges with bright colors. Use the tip and edge of the palette knife.
Use the palette knife to add specks of yellow and ochre to the interior of the schemer.

3. Dip the tip of the palette knife in a dark color. Draw 4-or-5 inch squiggly verticals both below and above the horizontal. Maintain a loose grip as you draw these trees so that they will not appear rigid. Use only the tip of the palette knife throughout the rest of this third step. Break up the middle group with other colors or add warm color to right or left to create balance.

To draw branches, sketch in similar, equally squiggly lines at horizontals of about 30° from both the upper and lower verticals.
For shadows, draw in small dark lines at an angle of about 25° from the base of the trees. Draw them downwards from the trunks in a left-to-right (or right-to-left) direction.
Touch up the edges of the trunks with a light color.
For the roots draw in small squiggly lines just below the trunks. If your trees are especially dark, use a light tone for the roots.
Touch up the upper portions of the trunk and/or branches with a dark color. Use a thick blob of paint.

4. Using only the tips of a light wad of toilet paper, dipped lightly in white paint, swish it several times across the Ie water to create sparkling ripples. Use a loose wrist movement. If you can’t get the right effect this way, use the palette knife to crease the surface of the water with light blue paint to represent ripples.

5. Dip the tips of a strip or wad of toilet paper in bright colors. Press the paper gently against the treetops to create spangly clusters of leaflike circles and other shapes.

6. If you’d like, add a stick figure of a person or animal. Place it in as subtle or as dramatic a position as possible, vis-a-vis the trees or water.
If not, touch up with yellow or ochre wherever you need emphasis. Use more toilet paper to add light colors to any spots on the canvas that still seem flat. ;

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