I realised that my preparatory study for this painting was overworked. Fortunately I had taken photos at the various stages and on reflection I felt that an earlier ‘incomplete’ version was more successful. So I printed out this photo and used it as my main reference point for the final painting.
Consider what elements had special appeal to you in your chosen landscape subject?
I was influenced by the work of Welsh landscape painters Gwilym Prichard and Kyffin Williams (see Idea 3: Snowdon) and felt that a mountain scene would give me more opportunity to be expressive in my painting than a townscape or trees, for example. Also I felt that it would suit large bold strokes of brush and palette knife which would be appropriate for the size of the canvas. I was aiming to avoid getting entangled with unnecessary detail as in several of my earlier works.
Did you find techniques that suited your subject matter and ideas?
Yes, I think the combination of a large brush and palette knife, credit card and toothbrush created appropriate free and expressive marks. I found working on a stretched canvas very different to working on primed paper. I feel I have more control over a palette knife on paper as the surface seems to accept the paint in a more predictable way.
- The composition is reasonable and makes good use of the canvas. The ridge leads the viewer from the tall crag around the rest of the painting.
- The colour palette is deliberately limited. I considered using some Pthalo green and Pthalo blue but decided against these as I found in my preparatory work that they can be overwhelming. I used cerulean blue which has a cold and icy feel to it. In fact all the colours used are cold which suits the mountain. I painted onto a very light blue ground.
- The subject matter is suitable for the size of the canvas.
- While not being totally representational, particularly in the colour palette, there’s a solid feel to the mountain. It looks cold and windy and a challenging place for we human beings.
- There is a reasonable use of aerial perspective.
- I feel I have been bolder a bit bolder with the use of the paint.. I’ve used more of it, layered it in a more complex way and used a variety of marks.
What doesn’t work so well?
- The foreground (left) could perhaps have more detail but I was worried about going over the top yet again …
- The black edge of the far mountain may be a bit too dark given that aerial perspective would dictate that this would be muted… I left it as is because there is something about the picture that makes me think of a lino print – the use of the dense black paint perhaps – and I did not want to lose this effect.
- Perhaps I’ve overworked this painting… on reflection I could have stopped at stage four (see how my painting progressed below). Or even stage one!
What did I learn from the process?
This is the first large scale painting I’ve produced in any media so it was learning all the way.
- I discovered that canvas behaves quite differently to paper.
- It became obvious to me that I would need a reference painting to work from because when working on a large canvas it is quite difficult to see the totality of your work.
- I learnt that by working in layers and allowing adequate time for each layer to dry I could preserve the integrity of the colours and avoid ending up with the muddy mess that has plagued me from time to time.
- I’ve done very little work with a palette knife so far and I’ve discovered that I like this technique a lot and it is a good way to avoid getting caught up in detail that doesn’t actually contribute to the message of the painting.
- I realised the value of photographing and recording the various stages of my work. This has helped me to see that I have a bad habit of overworking my paintings!
How my painting progressed
Assignment 4: Idea 3 – Mount Snowdon
Assignment 4: Prep for final painting