Surowicz Abandoned: #1

This is my finished painting from Rick Surowicz’s podia Abandoned.

This podia was another very helpful course for me from Rick Surowicz. My final painting doesn’t have the same sense of disarray that Rick captured in his painting because I focused much too tightly on the house when it came time to paint it in. I also didn’t capture the depth of field that he achieved, so that’s something for me to focus on moving forward. In Rick’s version there are many more soft edges – especially among the bushes and trees. My painting captures a lot more texture in the trees, particularly those in the distance. This flattens the overall composition a bit. I also have a much more strong color contrast, which gives this a more noon day feel as opposed to the dusky feel Rick achieved with a more muted palette. I prefer the muted effect Rick achieved, but I’m certain that it’s much too late to go back and desaturate by adding more neutrals to the background and softening more of the edges.

Painting an abandoned structure is something I am very interested in doing, and I know if a structure on the way to the AEP campgrounds that I would like to attempt to paint on Wednesday if the weather permits.

I am proud of this one for a few reasons. Most importantly, I managed to paint the vegetation in a single pass for the most part. I resisted the temptation to go back into the washes and rework portions I was unhappy with, instead letting what felt like mistakes to exist. Now that I look back at it, I can’t quite remember which parts I was tempted to noodle around with, which is strong evidence that letting mistakes exist is far better than trying to force them into what I want them to be.

I’m also happy with the calligraphy in the final dark values in the vegetation, and the bricks in the chimneys. This was a stage where I needed to paint with confidence and flourish, and I did so. Normally, I paint with that flourish because I stopped giving a damn. I know I’m going to hate the final painting, so I’m not afraid of ruining it with some bold strokes of thick dark color. Here, I painted those same strokes intentionally, but with that same freedom of movement. This is proof to me that continuing on failed paintings can be immensely helpful because it helps build skills that I’ll need on more successful compositions.

I am also happy that I didn’t trace or exactly parrot the painting techniques in Rick’s demonstrations. I followed all of the preparatory lessons, in particular the value studies.

Here’s one of the value study exercises.

But when it came time to paint this, instead of using the sketch Rick provides, I drew my own. This was a very helpful exercise in simplifying a sketch from a picture. Instead of relying on the simplifications that Rick made in his sketch, I forced myself to draw from the photo. This meant I had to choose an appropriate level of detail to include, and for the most part I’m happy with the simplifications I made.

I’m also really pleased with the dappled shadows on the roof.

This was also a very helpful exercise in painting negative space, particularly at the portico.

The biggest place for improvement is in the washes. I want to add more bold color variations in order to properly capture texture and light.

So, there you have it. I’m once again very happy with the purchase I made, and I highly recommend purchasing the course.

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