Landscape step by step – blocking in

Now for the fun part! Time to fill the canvas.

This is really still just and underpainting and will mostly be painted over or adjusted later. It’s mostly just to establish the value relationships of the painting, but some of the dark areas will show through in the finished painting.

The first step is to block in the darkest darks. Here’s the photo again for reference:


The darkest area is the reflection in the water, and some shadows in the bushes on either side of the scene. The distant hill also appears fairly dark in the photo, but I’m going to lighten that up in the painting to enhance the sense of atmospheric perspective.

So I first block in the darks in the water and the bushes, again using very thin paint:


Then I continue with the next darkest areas, keeping everything very loose, and still using very thin paint mixtures.


Finally I continue to block in the lightest areas. The paint can be a bit thicker in the lights, but I save the thickest paint (straight from the tube) for the finishing stages.

I’ve made the sky slightly greyer than it appears in the photo, so it doesn’t draw attention from the focal area. I’ve also subdued the value of the distant hill as you can see, so that it recedes into the distance.


Looking pretty messy at this stage, but the main thing is that the canvas is covered, and now I can start to refine the values and edges in the next stage

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