Last week, we focused largely on critiques, and exploring how to create depth and contrast by glazing. There were two assignments:

1) Create a monochromatic version of a painting by a master.

2) Find a subject of my own, and paint it at least five times emphasizing different colors in each version.

For the first assignment, I copied he painting by Sargent that I had made a value study of last week.

La Biancheria – John Singer Sargent, 1910
My pencil value study
My attempt to paint Sargent’s piece in blue.

The biggest thing I learned from this is how dramatically you can increase contrast by glazing tea-strength paint. I have developed a bad habit of jumping from tea to cream without using any coffee or milk at all. This experiment showed me that glazing tea over tea can provide as much contrast as single washes of tea and milk.

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry… I am working on some posts to explain stuff like that, hopefully I’ll finish them soon so I can start publishing posts that are more useful than these “lesson learned” posts that I’ve been writing since I started keeping this blog.

For my second assignment I decided to paint different versions of the barn I painted for week one.

This is the photo I’m working off of.
This was my painting last week.

The painting I made last week (above) was fairly neutral and used hues and contrast that made me think of a bright hazy noon day. For this week’s assignment, I wassupposed to try different color tones for the same painting. First, I tried a warm version aiming for a feeling of nostalgia. The second one I wanted to be a gloomy stormy version. And the third one I wanted something that really leaned into the cool tones.

Here is v2, with a focus on warm tones.

The warm toned version didn’t work well. It felt trite and over-romanticized. I also over worked the sky in that version which always dooms a composition.

This was supposed to be a moody heavy storm… it’s too bright and crisp to read correctly though.

The sky in the gloomy stormy version I think came out reasonably well. This ultra moody sky aesthetic is something I want to explore a lot more. I should have relied a lot more on soft edges near the horizon, since there’s no way the background would have that much crisp definition if the sky were that heavy.

I like this sky the best.

I really like the sky in the last version the best. Not surprising since I barely did anything. I always always always prefer skies that I paint in a minute or two and never touch again. However, I didn’t really lean into the cool tones enough at all. Or, the shock of neon yellow obliterated any hope of this feeling like it was painted with cool colors. Maybe I should try again, but really push the cool tones a lot more?

One other thing I wanted to explore more was that lifting technique I tried to pull off in the foreground of the first painting. I didn’t get to play with it much before the second class though. I’ll touch more on that in next week’s post.

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