I've had this big canvas (4' x 4') waiting on my easel for a while now – I've been itching to get at it. Finally I've begun! The process may look different than you might have imagined. Since it is a painting of a landscape at dusk, I wanted a dark blue underpainting. Then I draw in my composition.
The dark (nearly black-looking) lines were the first stages of the composition, which I painted over as I refined it. You can see here I've begun to indicate the rows of the vineyards and a big more structure in the big tree.
The next part of the process is to lay in big shapes of color. It doesn't have to be neat. Actually, it's much better if it's not. I want bits of that dark blue showing through and influencing the feeling of dusk in the painting.
It's starting to look quite different now, isn't it? The lightness of the sky makes a considerable difference.... Notice, I'm still laying in big shapes of color, but starting to break them down into some slightly smaller shapes, particularly in the vineyard and between the rows of vines.
Here, I'm continuing to break the bigger shapes down into smaller and smaller shapes, adding the variations within them. The most important thing is to bring the whole painting along together, and not to get obsessive about detail in any one particular place. You need to see the whole forest (or, in this case, the vineyard), not the trees (or their specifics – yet).
Here's where the painting is currently. You can see I'm continuing to develop the hill behind, the trees, and the vineyard and its rows – and I've brought a nice strong robin's egg blue color into the sky. It's not done yet, by a long shot – I'll share its progress as it develops.
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am an artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes and lessons, and live in Calistoga, California. I also teach private, group, and corporate art workshops in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and other parts of Northern California.