Bridging Worlds through Creativity

Intuition Alone Is Not Enough

First Landscape in Pastel

Yesterday, I had a minor letdown when I learned that a live pastel class, which I was eager to attend, had been cancelled. So, I turned to my online landscape painting class with Marla Baggetta. I’m on Lesson 5, which is really only my second hands-on painting lesson so far, because Lessons 1-3 covered foundational concepts, and Lesson 4 resulted in the apple and pear last week. Anyway, this week’s lesson is focused on painting skies, obviously an essential aspect of most landscapes. I watched the training video two weeks ago, and since then I had no time to play in the studio. But I held the video lesson in my mind, and paid attention to the skies around me, painting them in my mind. When I finally had time to play, I followed along with the demonstration video, and the above painting was created. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I went on to the next assignment:  create four more skyscapes.

The painting below is my first attempt without any guide to follow. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did have a set of universal guidelines:

  • Start by drawing a thumbnail sketch
  • Identify the value structure of the layout
  • Sketch in the large shapes on the paper
  • Fill in large shapes with correct values
  • Start by using a light hand
  • Build the whole piece together

Storming Through

My challenge, which was quickly realized once I started, was that I didn’t have Marla’s voice telling me the order in which to paint, and which color and value to select from. I immediately found myself in the awkward position of having to make those color and value choices myself, based on some brilliant wisdom gleaned from some combination of the gorgeous reference photo and my small value sketch. While I don’t want to be too hard on myself, since I’m not too pleased with the outcome of Storming Through, I do believe that my biggest mistake was that I was not as thoughtful while working, and I lost track of the values. Thus a dark, evening cloudbank with sunlight peeking through was transformed unintentionally into storm clouds with rain.

Maybe I’ll try it again. Next time I will allow more time for the preparation stage – trying out more variations in layout, and playing around with several value sketches until I get it right. I hope that will help me to be more confident in my design and have a better understanding of how the values are working. This will, I believe, lead to making better color choices. What I’m aiming for is to able to give my thumbnail more attention than the actual reference photo. I didn’t quite do that for the above painting. I got overly-confident after the first landscape, and thought I might be able to jump in quickly, with intuition as my primary guide. At this point in my learning process, intuition was just not enough ~ it needed to be balanced with a dose of the science of creativity – color theory and values in aerial perspective.

On to the next one!

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