HOUSE IN CLOVER VALLEYWritten by Spike Ress
This demonstration deals only with the steps that were involved in
applying paint after a preliminary drawing had been transferred
to the paper. It is important to begin with a good preliminary
drawing. No techniques will disguise shoddy draftsmanship or a
poor understanding of composition.
The first order of business is to get a good under-painting or block-in.
In the first stages of this piece, the block-in has been established
using colors that will set the tone for the rest of the painting.
The sky was painted in first, using a mix of three blues (ultramarine,
cobalt, and cerulean.) While the lower part of the sky was still
wet, I charged in a mix of raw umber and cobalt violet.
Next, the house was painted in using yellow ocher with cobalt violet.
Then the foreground green (permanent green mixed with burnt sienna)
was put in charging some areas with raw sienna. The texture seen
in lower right is clean water spattered in while the green was
still wet. By this time the sky was dry, allowing me to block-in
background hills using yellow ocher mixed with a lot of cobalt
violet. Most of the background hills will be painted over, letting
spots of this warm tint show through.
Once all areas in step one were mostly dry, I laid in the background
color of the distant sagebrush covered hills using a grayed-green
(permanent green grayed with raw sienna, raw-umber with a touch
of cobalt blue and cobalt violet.) I am purposely leaving unpainted
paper in areas that will later have trees painted in. This is
to allow for a later passage of clean, transparent color.
Also in this stage, I laid in the color for the roof. This building
had a bright colored metal roof with standing seams. This is the
beginning color. Details will be added later. You can see how
I was careful on the roofline to cut around the shape of the dormers
that will be defined in later stages. The color of the chimney
was also laid in at this point.
The grasses and bushes around the house were laid in, using mid to
dark range greens (permanent green grayed with burnt sienna, ultramarine
blue to darken.)
The foreground area, in this stage, was not touched at all.
After step two dried,
I worked on the background hills. I laid in the dark green shapes
of juniper and pinion trees. Remember, these are only shapes.
The tree-shapes give definition to the shape of the hill because
the larger shapes appear to be closer and smaller shapes further
back. This creates the illusion of perspective. The areas for
the trees are still being saved on either side of the house.
The shadow areas
were laid in now on the house and chimney. The diagonal strokes
on the right side of the house are the shadows cast by trees that
are yet to be painted in.
A violet color was laid in to the left and right of the building, under and through
the trees. This color acts as a complement to the green that will
be painted in for the trees. Notice how I have cut around the
shape of the large tree trunk in the area to the left of the house.
This trunk will be painted in later. A line of violet shadow,
defining what will become a road, was also laid in to the middle
ground just below the house.
In the foreground, I laid in the darker greens, helping to define some of the weeds
and grass. Again, larger shapes closer up, smaller shapes further
back achieve the illusion of perspective. An atmospheric perspective
is also achieved by making the closer shapes warmer and the more
distant shapes cooler.
The big changes
taking place at this stage are pretty obvious. The colors and
shapes of the trees have been laid in using a variety of greens
(permanent green and hookers green warmed with burnt sienna and
raw umber) as well as touches of raw umber and blue (mix of ultramarine
and cobalt) charged into the wet greens. These warm and cool touches
add variation of shape and color to create a modeling with color,
not just value.
The violet to the left of the building has been deepened and the tree trunk painted
in to the area that was left out in the previous stages.
At this stage the shadows cast on the roof and other roof and chimney details have
been added. The dormers begin to stand out because of the shadow
The passage of very warm, almost violet color laid into the left foreground was
done for two reasons; to change the color and value of that area
in contrast to the road, which serves to accent the road, and
to accent the effect of light on the grass and weeds in the foreground.
In the last stage of this painting, the final darks were put in helping to define
all the details of the scene.The dark green pinion and juniper
shapes were added to define the ridge of the distant hills. Note
how this helps to balance the composition of the scene, which
has all of its focal point and objects heavy to the left. This
compositional solution was thoroughly worked out in my preliminary
At this point the
dark values were added to the trees close to the house using the
original mixture of green with the addition of more blue. Notice
how the darks in the trees now make the building appear to have
more sunlight on it. As luck would have it, there was one very
dark evergreen tree in this yard, positioned in such a way as
to perfectly accent the edges and provide contrast to the light
on the house. My choice of this particular view was influenced
by the position of this particular tree.
The fence posts along the roadway and in front of the house were also put in at
this stage. Notice the subtle indication of a railroad crossing
sign. This was painted in with very thin opaque. Some opaque paint
was also used to define the window frames and the door. Trying
to save minor areas of white inhibits the freshness of my paint