Recently, I’ve been visiting and staying with my parents, just helping them out some. They live in a very quiet neighborhood, and I love peace and quiet. 🙂 I brought along my sketch books, charcoal, pencils, and my new watercolor gear. So glad I brought the watercolors!
I enjoy creating studies, to practice a scene before I create a larger, final piece. Some people have asked what sizes I use for creating studies.
I mostly paint in oils, and my favorite sizes for studies are:
• small 6×8
• medium 8×10 | 9×12
• large 11×14 | 12×18
Sizes 11×14 and smaller are also very convenient for traveling and outdoor plein air studies.
Study #1 – “Tipi Rain”
Before starting, I visualized a scene with neutral greys. I wanted in the simplest form, the main subject to easily pop out when surrounded with a basic neutral color.
No reference photos used – just memory and imagination. Tipi’s are a favorite subject for me.
I started with lightly sketching a low horizon line and off-centered standard triangle tipi shape. After I decided the direction of the light and shadows, I added the darkest color – using a light touch. Placing the deepest darks (values) of your shadows and brightest highlights at the main subject, will help emphasize the subject’s focal point.
Then I worked on the mid-tones, and very lightly added the soil in the foreground to help lead the eye to the main subject.
Time spent: about 10 minutes
It was fun watching the little water ‘accidents’, shapes, and movements.
My next study would be bison! They’re such powerful creatures, and I really enjoy painting them.
Study #2 – “Bison Power”
I believe getting back to the very basics of sketching is an important factor. Sketching is the foundation for practicing art.
I spent more time sketching this scene than painting.
I started with very lightly creating some basic circles for their heads, body, and hips. Then I worked out their topline, leg placements, general body composition, muscle shapes, and fur.
I wanted the bison on the right to be pushing forward, so his spine is arched a little more, with front legs moving forward, and his head is slightly lowered and tucked.
Back when I was a youth, I was on a 4-H horse judging team and I would study bone, muscle, and characteristics of horses for hours, upon hours, upon hours. Devoting a lot of time to studying animal shapes, bones, muscle structures, and basic forms will help you create.
Remember it takes a lot of time and patience – years of learning and eye development. Your artistic eye is constantly evolving.
Time spent: approx 20 minutes.
Eventhough I had a full set of watercolors with lots of color choices, I only wanted to design each study with a very limited palette of color. Keeping it simple.
How many colors can you spot in each study?
I do recommend if your just getting started in art, or want to practice more, start with tiny and quick thumbnail sketches, or small sketches. Work out the kinks on shapes, composition, shadows, and highlights in your sketchpad. Once you have the general layout, then try creating a new larger study, sketching it again on your canvas and then add a few colors. Try using a very limited palette.
I enjoy creating small studies and it helps to add those much needed ‘extra miles’ of practice for developing your artistic eye.
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