New Finished Painting

I decided not to rework this canvas en plein air before adding the white structure lines. I thought that I would add the lines, and if the canvas still needed reworking I could do this after the structure in is, which is something I’ve never done before, but which could be interesting.

I decided on this image of the sculpture to add to the painting. I made this decision by revisiting the photoshopped structure images in the landscape and photos I took of the space where I was painting, and used them to pick to photograph an image of the structure from an angle that best fitted the shape I imagined when I was painting outside in the landscape.
I used a normal (not wide-angle) lens to do this, due to the investigation I did into how the wide angle lens badly affects the structure’s shape.

I felt this image was fitting for the painting because of the leg of the structure on the left, which is close to the viewer and soars up to meet the top. I thought this extreme angle and proximity to the camera would accentuate the height of the structure compositionally.

I the traced the image (which took a little guess work especially the top left part of the structure because the leg blurs all that is behind it), and then projected that onto the painting.
I was immediately excited to see how the painting would turn out. The angle of the structure using the normal lens felt like the most successful dome and religious building like shape I have ever painted.
When choosing where to place the structure in this painting I had a bit of a dilemma; I was torn between placing the structure where it fits best in the painted landscape and fully describes where I pictured it in the painting, or whether I should prioritise the aesthetics of the final painting, and move the structure down so that it fills more of the canvas.
I ended up finding a middle ground between the two, slightly favouring the aesthetic concern.
Ideally I wouldn’t have to choose between these two. The problem once again was that I had filled too much of the canvas with the ground and the tree shape forms straight ahead, but not enough of the painting was the sky / canopy. And since the structure is focused on the act of looking up, I felt there wasn’t enough perception of looking up recorded in the plein air painting.
Next time I do one of these paintings I must remember to look up more when I am painting outside.

Here’s the painting process:

This was quite quick to paint (half a day). This is because this structure felt the most natural and fitting for the painting than any shape I have added in the past. I am also familiar with the projecting & painting process by now, and so have a better eye for which lines to include and which to leave out.

The finished painting:

1.6 x 1.2m

What works

I am really happy with the finished painting, and feel like it achieves something I have been striving for for months, which is for the structure to remind the eye of a religious building, with the dome of the building seeming to contain space great space and atmosphere within it, and for this structure to harmonise with the woodland painting underneath.
I think this is achieved by these reasons:
– Normal lens (not wide angle) which captured the angles of the structure with perspective that is like the naked eye, which makes the perspective lines look believable to the viewer of the painting.
– The angle the viewer is looking at the painting accentuates the depth of the structure because the front part of the structure overlaps with the roof of the structure – the lines cross. And by putting some of the lines under paint marks that some on top, the eye is told that this structure has depth in space. The angle doesn’t look up straight up at the structure (which would make the lines look flat and decorative), and the angle doesn’t look too far across at the structure that the viewer doesn’t feel inside/underneath the structure.
– The placement of the structure: it fills nearly half of the canvas. It feel like the structure is a massive entity with great, vast presence in the painting. This gives the painting a heavier atmosphere than my previous paintings, which feel lighter and airer. This might also be affected by the colours in this painting, which are very dull and limited.

The background colour – blood red – works well. At the bottom of the canvas I would normally have had to put down a lot of red tones to counteract the cold blue background, but in this painting the red was already there, so I could focus on other parts of the canvas and leave the floor bare. The red background, I realise now, might be why the painting is more intense that previous ones. But I think this works. Since the cathedral/religious buildings I experience I think are intense, and heavy and thick with atmosphere, so it makes sense to reflect that in the background colour of my paintings!
I also think at this time of year the red works well to describe the heavy and still feeling there is to a sleeping woodland.

The size of the canvas. A little bigger than my last painting and a little squarer, which means it encompasses you more when you stand in front of it, which is effective for the atmosphere and experience I am trying to create!
I guess in a way I am trying to best and most accurately depict the experiences I am having in both a woodland and a religious building, so that the viewer, when they stand in front of my painting, experiences what I felt. Have I so clearly acknowledged this before!? This would be good as work that is trying to remind people of the wonder of religious and woodland spaces, regardless of culture or religion.

These specific sections on the canvas!:

^ The white structure line that I painted on top of the green brush mark with not much paint on the brush. This meant the white only got put down on some of the ridges of the dry brush mark. But the affect is that the thick green brushmark is semi-transparent and shows some of the white line underneath. I love this! It adds more complexity and dimension and mystery to my marks, which have always been very opaque.
I want to play with this idea of transparency and semi-transparency more (next term). It seems to be a topic that has emerged this term which I want to experiment with.

^ The layering of brush marks here, to me, makes this section look like an opening in trees/ foliage which leaves way for a scene that is further back in space (the grey marks). I love that such abstracted brush marks can suggest the opening in the forest, which is exactly what I was painting and trying to depict.

What doesn’t work

There is not enough white in the painting! The day I painted the sky was so grey, and filled more of the landscape than I have recorded here. More sky and less greeny brushwork at the top of the painting would have been better because it would have more accurately described the landscape I painted, and also give this sense of an opening the forest that the structure sits in.
This is purely me running out of white paint when I was painting outside! I won’t make this mistake again.

Perhaps the painting doesn’t have enough height? I made the structure’s top pretty large in the painting, which as I have written above, works really well. But I feel this means there should be more painted space below the structure. This would also eliminate the problem that I seem to not have enough vertical room on the canvas for both the ground and the sky above. Perhaps I need to build a stretcher that is vertically longer? (Next term)


This is the most successful painting for fulfilling my intentions I have ever made, which has been exciting to watch coming together!

The painting reminds me Giovanni Paolo Panini’s work, especially these two by him:

This is exciting because I feel like his work has been in the back of my mind all term, and I can now see the influence of his work plainly in my painting.

This painting was also the first time that I felt a little bored by the plein air process, since this is something that I am familiar with now. I feel like I need to move forward with my process, and challenge the materials I am using to a new form of expression.

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