“Haven’t Seen You in a While” creative process

Posted on

It’s difficult to believe that it was October 2012 when my wife and I last visited California. You may read about that visit HERE.

I’ll be going again next month as one of the featured speakers at the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention and Expo in San Francisco. I will be speaking on Friday, 26 April, at 9:05 PM at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel. In the presentation I will outline the benefits of using a limited palette of just three primaries, plus white. Topics will include…how to select an appropriate palette of colors for each painting; how to mix the color you want every time; understanding and using the color wheel to your advantage…and much, much more. I hope you can join us. HERE is the information you’ll need. (Click images to enlarge)

I’ve done several paintings as a result of that 2012 California trip; this week I present another I’ve just completed. What follows is the process used to bring the work to completion.

I do not know where I was in California when I came upon this scene. I know it was somewhere on our drive from San Francisco to Monterey. You should know by now that I am attracted to neighborhoods…not the modern ones, but those that have been around a while. I was attracted to this scene because of the strong light, the deep red of the house that created such a nice contrast to the variety of greens, and the distant hills…reduced in value and intensity by the atmosphere.

When painting on location or from photographs, we must always decide, first thing, why the scene is important to us, what is it about the subject we want to communicate, and how best to communicate that to the viewer. The answer to all those questions begins, visually, with the composition. The deep red of the house I found tremendously appealing among the lighter elements of the scene, and all the green foliage; therefore, that became the focal point of the painting. Here I begin at the focal point, establishing the drawing and value structure, and working out from that point. The value structure is created using raw umber…no white.

Once the values are established within the focal point, it’s very important that all other values within the painting are in the proper relationship to those. I really like this stage of painting for it is here that the mood for the piece is created. The value structure of the painting is pretty well established, so I consider, at this point, how to enhance the mood and narrative with the addition of people and a vehicle…representing something in keeping with the times.

You all know that I’m a firm believer in the use of a limited palette, after all, I just wrote a book about it. The limited palette I speak of basically consists of just the three primaries – blue, red, and yellow. The choice of a palette for this painting was no different…but, which three primaries is the question. The most important color choice for this painting began with selecting the best red for the job. Using that as a beginning point, the blue and yellow were then chosen because they provided the violet, orange, and green mixtures I wanted. I’ve been adding Ivory Black to the palette at times; it is used to neutralize color intensity if needed. Palette selection: Cobalt Blue, Indian Red, Cadmium Yellow Light, Ivory Black, Titanium White.

Beginning again at the focal point, I begin applying color – careful to match the values already established.

“Haven’t Seen You in a While” – 10.5″ x 12.25″ – Oil

This painting is available for purchase. HERE are the details.

***If you would like to receive this weekly blog automatically, please complete the simple form to the right of this page.

I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest teaching video and book. The video and accompanying book, shown here, along with my first video, “Limited Palette Landscape”, include everything I’ve taught in my workshops. You can now take my oil painting workshop right in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less money than physically being present. (Click image to learn more)

John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE.


Please Note - You must be logged into a Facebook account in order to write comments. We highly recommend using Google Chrome, Fire Fox, or Internet Explorer since some individuals have not been able to leave comments on the Safari browser. If you have any issues, please email me.