samedi 6 décembre 2008

PAINTING FROM MEMORY – A Cabin in the Woods, Tremblant

“It is very difficult to go away from a subject after having received an impression and set that impression down from memory. “ Robert Henri in The Art Spirit.

A few years ago I taught a painting workshop at a cottage on a lake. One afternoon I coached the students while they painted from motifs in and around some log cabins by the lake. As we were about to leave the site I remember being impressed by the effect of a shaft of light weaving through trees and glancing off the side of a log cabin. It was time to boat back to the cottage for supper. That image, however, remained vivid in my mind.

Arriving at the cottage I offered to do a demonstration painting before supper. I had no references, no sketches and no photos except the memory of this clear image I had just experienced. I drew the bones of the scene on a quarter sheet of watercolor paper and painted it within an hour. A participant photographed the various stages of the painting which I now share with you.

You will notice that the watercolor is not a faithful representation of the scene as can be seen from the photo. The watercolor is an impression of the effect of light on a witnessed scene.

Stage 1: I first drew shapes to represent the trunks of the distant trees, the cabin in the middle ground and three larger trees overlapping the cabin in the foreground.

Stage 2: After placing a juicy wash of Cobalt Blue on the background I laid in some orange hue into the still damp paint to suggest distant foliage. A row of deep orange and yellow paint forms was laid in across the bottom third of the paper right in front of the cabin.

Stage 3: Next I painted the both sides of the building. Raw Sienna was used for the lighter side and a mixture of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue for the darker side.

Stage 4: The roof and front overhang were painted slightly lighter to suggest light bouncing off them. I made sure to leave some specs of white paper unpainted along the top side of the logs to represent flecks of light.

Stage 5: The two middle ground trees were painted as dark silhouettes. I took great care to assure variety and repetition in both the shape of the boughs and the foliage.

Stage 6: I then painted the large foreground tree leaning in and leading into the scene. In order to direct the viewer’s look back towards the brilliant ray of light in the middle ground I painted a dark shape representing underbrush across the lower part. It faded off to the right in color, intensity and definition.

Stage 7: The dark windows and doorways were then painted. Some detail was added near the center of interest.

“The development of an ability to work from memory, to select factors … your unique vision of nature …will make it possible to …make your statement of them as they were when they were most beautiful to you.” Robert Henri in The Art Spirit.

Raynald Murphy sca

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