Taieri River Landscape – the process

I’ve come to realise the importance of preparatory study before diving into a final painting. This post details the steps prior to the finished artwork, I hope you find it both interesting and useful. Photo was taken just outside Ranfurly, New Zealand during a wonderful weekend of teaching.

The original photograph. I was drawn to the strong verticals and tangled horizontals of the fallen branches. There was much detail that I needed to simplify before deciding on my final composition.

Notan*1 – using a marker pen and pad I laid out three formats; square, portrait and landscape to decide which one (or two) captured my interest the most.

The notan studies were then translated using charcoal and soft pastel on primed cartridge paper. This gave me a clearer idea of which format suited the composition and also which one I was more drawn to.

Notans and colour studies side-by-side.

I found a lovely blue printing ink at my local art store and decided (after priming my large A3 sketchbook with clear gesso) to roughly block in a background. Sometimes just randomly laying down a base colour breaks that white page apprehension, and I guess for me is an excuse to have a little fun, which of course is important!

Following on from my notan I lay down the basic composition using black gesso. Dense, matte and gorgeous to work with!

For the next layer I used acrylic – a blend of colours from a recent art supplies purchase. It wasn’t quite the composition I was looking for, so I went back to the original photograph and established stronger foreground trees and detail using charcoal.

Here the charcoal and a deeper study of the photograph has brought further definition to the work.

Much learning during this study with so much more I wish to discover of this impressionistic way of working. Challenging, but thoroughly satisfyingly. There are probably further adjustments I could make, but for now I will leave this study as it is.

Thank you for reading and following my blog, your support is truly appreciated.

  1. Notan (pronounced no-tan) is a Japanese term that means ‘light and dark harmony/balance. ‘ It’s a design concept that looks at how light and dark elements of a composition interact only using black and white. β†©οΈŽ

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