This was my favorite oil painting experience ever. It was one of those paintings where everything just came together. Yay!
I painted it from life in two afternoons. I think what led to my success was that first I got the drawing right and then I just put the paint down and left it, doing very little touching up and/or correcting (aka overworking).
Below are a few photos of the setup and the beginnings of the work in progress.
Now this was fun to paint and everything actually went pretty well. I’m starting to make friends with gouache and enjoying recollecting and putting to use some old watercolor skills.
I left off his fishing pole and some other fishing tools because I wanted to focus on the fish. I LOVED painting this fish and I’m thinking about buying some fish to paint. I’ve painted fish before, but only when standing at the fish counter at the local Ranch Market 99 and sketching these.
Unlike with oil paints, there’s a point with gouache where it just gets nasty if you try to add one more layer or brush stroke. The positive side to that is that it encourages me to try to get the color and value right as quickly as possible; to put a stroke down and leave it, not thinking “close enough, I’ll fix it later” like I tend to do in oils (a lazy, bad habit).
On this painting I passed the point of no return on the woman’s face and have to admit I did a wee bit of softening/smudging in Procreate before I posted this to fix the lumps too many layers of paint made on her nose. Even so I didn’t do justice to how cute both she and the baby actually are in their photo.
Another mystery photo! Is he an artist who builds giant chicken statues or perhaps a chicken rancher with his trademark chicken?
I noticed that when I paint with gouache on cold press watercolor paper I end up with little white spots in dark areas so this time I tried a different gouache technique. I covered the whole sketch first with thin washes. It wasn’t that helpful. I learned that for that to work it’s necessary to get the values right in the underpainting, making darks really dark.
I had an awesome first day painting plein air in five years, inspired by a guy I saw painting the same tree the day before when I was on a hike at Albany Bulb (see last photo below).
Despite typical glitches there was some bonus fun, like the caricature sketch below of me, my tree and my dog, drawn by a funny, toothless guy from London who hung out nearby while I painted for a while. Then a dance troupe showed up to practice, led by a woman who annoyingly ended every sentence with a question mark. They were there to plan their performance for an upcoming festival at Albany Bulb (a former dump and now a rustic park by the SF Bay.)
Some of the glitches:
carrying a way too heavy backpack with easel and supplies when I could have just brought a stool and painted on my lap (a wheeled cart wouldn’t have worked to hike in a mile on rutted trails);
finding my palette a total mess because all the wet paint I added before leaving leaked into the others;
painting in the sun instead of putting up the umbrella I CARRIED with me so the initial painting came out way too dark due to my eyes reacting to the bright light.