Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sketches from Maine - Part 3 (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

During my June workshop in Maine, I waited all week for the perfect day to drive to the top of Mt. Battie and spend some time sketching. My patience was rewarded when we awoke one morning to abundant sunshine and clear blue skies.

The view from the top of Mt. Battie is spectacular - deep blue ocean as far as the eye can see, dotted here and there with low-lying islands. Off in the distance, fifty miles or so to the northeast, Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park jut out into the sea. Down the hill lies the picture-perfect village of Camden.

"Pretty Little Camden, Maine, "9" x 6", Stillman and Birn Alpha series hardbound sketchbook, ink & watercolor

The expansive view from the top of the mountain can be overwhelming for an artist. How do you capture the vastness of it all? Well, this year, I didn't even try. Instead, I focused in on the pretty little town of Camden and attempted to capture the feeling of its houses nestled in among the trees next to a snug, protected harbor. Zooming in on a scene is a great way to limit your view and narrow your selection of subject matter.

I used a Platinum Carbon fountain pen with Platinum Carbon ink and an extra fine nib for the drawing. The extra fine nib was a good choice for this scene with its tiny details. The sky and water were painted first...

Step 1 - Paint the sky and water

The next step was to paint the distant islands and fingers of land jutting out into Penobscot Bay. Moving into the mid-ground, I painted the bright yellow-green fields and some grassy areas along the water's edge and put the first bits of color on the buildings.

Step 2 - Paint the distant land and begin picking out some of the mid- and foreground details.

Moving into the foreground, I painted a lone evergreen and the light and middle values on the rocks.

The foreground grasses came next.

Step 3 - Paint the foreground grasses

While the first light yellow-green washes were still wet, I added darker tones to indicate shadows. As they dried, strokes of darker color were added to suggest texture/foliage.

Detail

Next, I painted the dark spit of land above the Camden woods and began adding more color to the houses so that when I began painting all the green trees in the mid-ground, I wouldn't accidentally paint over a tiny house.


Step 4 - Paint the dark peninsula and add color to more buildings.


It was finally time to tackle all the greenery in and around the town.

Step 5 - Begin painting the trees around the buildings.

I started with light to medium values of olive green and varied it by adding ultramarine blue for shadow tones. Sap green was used, also, and combined with ultramarine and burnt umber or burnt sienna for the deepest shadows.

Detail

I contrasted light sunlit sides of trees with darker areas that were in shadow. Individual trees were painted wet-in-wet, but, where I wanted a hard edge, I had to let some of them dry so that the adjacent tree color wouldn't run into them.


The last step was to paint the woods that were beyond the little town.

Step 6 - Finish painting the more distant middle ground woods and the buildings in town.


I made these darker and more subdued, to make them recede into the distance and focus the eye more on the foreground and the town. They were painted wet-in-wet, but I left bits of sparkling white paper here and there to keep the area from feeling dull and lifeless.

Detail

The homes and commercial buildings peeking out from behind the trees were finished simply and blue-grey shadows were added.

Detail

Then I called it done!
Pretty little Camden, Maine...it's always held a place in my heart, and now it's in my sketchbook, too!

22 comments:

  1. Love how you captured this little village with the little houses peaking out. Your trees and water are great too!

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    1. Thanks, Annie. I like how it turned out. It's a sweet little miniature.

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  2. There are so many reasons to love this lesson of painting small with attention to detail but simple too. Camden looks like a place to put on my travel list! You are inspiring in the way you paint and teach! Julene from Oregon

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    1. Thanks, Julene. It definitely is. There's so much to do in the area, and Camden is just the cutest little town.

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  3. man, I can't believe the detail and shading and depth of field you've got in your bushes and shrubbery; that is really amazingly well done!

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  4. man, I can't believe the detail and shading and depth of field you've got in your bushes and shrubbery - that is really amazingly well done!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your process!

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  6. I love seeing your process in these step-by-step paintings. I am in awe of how much detail you can include in what is a fairly small sketch. Your greens are wonderful. That must be quite a view from Mt. Battie.

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    1. You need to join me next year for the workshop, Susan! Nothing can prepare you for when you walk up from the parking lot and come over the crest of the hill and see that panoramic view spread out before you. The universal response is "WOW!!!!"

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  7. Leslie you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your step by step descriptions. I see your work and think OMG, where do you start on something like this, now I know. Can't wait for your 2018 class at Cheap Joes in 2018.

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    1. I'm so glad the tutorial was helpful to you.
      I can't wait to return to Cheap Joe's. That was the most wonderful week - you're going to love it!

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  8. Dear Leslie, thank you so much for breaking down the steps you take to paint vast areas of greenery. I've just return d from a blessed trip to Yosemite and the vistas were incredible! Am encouraged to get it on paper now. Aloha!

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    1. You're welcome. You're right, a mass of green can be intimidating. I think values and color changes are the keys to differentiating one section from another. Good luck with your Yosemite sketches!

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  9. I loved the painting Leslie! Thank you for sharing it and showing the steps along the way. All those little details you have done are amazing. I think it must take quite a bit of patience working on something so small. Can you tell us what paints/colors you used?

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    1. I generally use sap green, olive green, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, permanent rose, permanent alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow medium, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and Payne's gray. Of course, I have other colors on my palette that I may have used, but these are my go-to colors.

      Brands I like are American Journey (from Cheap Joe's), Winsor and Newton, Holbein, and Daniel Smith.

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  10. Love this!!! You captured the view of Camden so nicely, and I loved seeing your steps.

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  11. Camden is one of our favorite places on earth! You have captured it beautifully!

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    1. Me, too! I'm hoping to get back there next summer. A year without a trip to Maine just isn't complete.

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