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Landscape - Waipu Cove
Artist: Richard Robinson
Note: This is a sample of my earlier painting technique.
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Here you can see the process of an oil painting being created over many hours. The details of the process vary with each painting, but the general concepts remain the same. I always begin by trying to put my finger on what it is that I love about this particular scene - whether it's the special light conditions, the composition, the mood, the colour, the atmospheric conditions, whatever it is, I don't begin until I have found it within me. Once I have found it, the painting then becomes an effort to express it.
After going out photographing and sketching the scene I come back to the studio to make some compositional studies in my sketch book. Occasionally before embarking on a large painting I will complete a smaller painting of the same scene to test my ideas. Next I prepare the board or canvas with 2 or 3 coats of primer sealer and then sketch out the basic composition in a light wash of colour. I also lightly mark in the horizon line with pencil.
Next I blocked in the darkest areas, leaving gaps where I thought the lightest areas would emerge later. The mid tones came next, as I began to create a sense of form in the rocks and trees and water. The dark reflections go down at the same time as their parent objects.
At this point I began playing with a new palette knife I've made, enjoying laying on the paint thickly like plaster. The rock's mid tones and highlights are developed further at this point in the hope that the finished rocks will set the mood for the entire painting.
The rock on the right changes shape here as I was unhappy with it's ambiguity. I block in the darker masses in the foliage and branches and begin adding detail using two different techniques. For the foliage I layered on the dark tones at first, getting gradually lighter and using thicker paint where the leaves emerge into the sunlight. For the branches I first brushed in the dark areas where the branches would appear and then, using a wet brush, my finger and a rag I lifted out areas of wet paint to reveal the limbs and twigs touched by light.
The rock again changes form because I felt the light on top of it was detracting from the focal point of the small island and leading my eye off the right hand side of the painting. More detail was added in the trees, and the shadow areas on the beach were blocked in. The basic colours of the sky were laid in with broad strokes, painting around what would eventually be Whangarei Heads in the distance. I also started playing with what I knew would be the most difficult area - the reflections in the water.
I'd refined the sky now, adding clouds and the distant hills. The sea also came forth and the reflections began to take shape.
I've used my new palette knife to good effect in creating the look of moving reflective water. This was achieved through close scrutiny of the colours and patterns involved and a gradual building up from dark tones to light tones. The sky holes where painted into the tree giving the appearance of light penetrating the tangled branches and leaves.
I decided that the sky was too pale compared with the foreground so I repainted the sky slightly darker. The beach and dunes developed slightly differently than I had envisaged - I opted for a single shadowed area because it suited the lighting I had applied to the other foreground elements. The seaweed and flotsam on the beach was worked in mainly with the palette knife to link this smoothly painted area with the impasto waves and rocks.
Finishing touches were added - mainly refinements of what was already there. Skyholes were added and some repainted, more detail added to the beach and dunes, the waves were added to the sunlit sea, remnant poles put on the rocks and my ubiquitous seagulls introduced to their new sky.

A detail of the finished painting showing the expressiveness of the impasto paint applied with the palette knife and the subtle glowing effect achieved in the branches by lifting the paint off rather than applying more opaque layers.

Note: This is a sample of my earlier painting technique.
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