Your reference photo is your guide for your piece. It's your gps, so to speak. But just as you may need to take a different route from what your gps suggests when traveling, sometimes you need to do something in your art other than what your reference photo shows, because it just doesn't look right in your piece.
I talked about that in this video.
The window frames in my photo appear pure white.
But that looked too stark in my painting. It bothered me. I mixed cerulean blue and purple, the same color I'd used for the sky, and painted very thin washes of this over the frame. My goal was to leave just a hint of the color, so that the frames would look like they were reflecting the color of the sky, but not that they were the color of the sky. I could never have felt that the painting was finished, no matter how many layers I put on it, if I'd left those frames white.
So do what feels right for your piece, not necessarily what your reference photo shows.
When it was time to start painting my sunrise, I started by blocking the whole area in with yellow. While that was still wet, I painted red on top. The goal was for the red and yellow to mix and make a peachy color. Using wet on wet also prevented sharp edges. It was very important to me, also, to leave some of the yellow showing.
I painted a band of purple between the blue and the pink of the sunset to help the colors blend a little better.
When the top layer was dry, I painted a couple bands of red along the bottom with my smallest brush. I used wet on dry this time because I wanted the edges of these bands to be a little sharper. I plan to go over these bands with some layers of yellow to soften them.
If you like this post, you might enjoy the one before this, where I explain why I use the particular shades that I do in this piece.
I’m working on a scene of my backyard during a sunrise. It’s teaching me something about how the eye’s perception of color will change with the time of day. If I was painting this same scene at midday, I would use more yellows and oranges and make everything warmer. Because it’s the beginning of the day, I’m making everything blue, purple, and generally cool.
The grass on the bottom needs to be much darker. I’m going over it with layers and layers of “black”, made by mixing ultramarine blue and burnt Sienna.
I realized that the blue I’d painted the sky was also too warm. Now, I was just blocking in the color when I was doing it, so I wasn’t all that concerned with accuracy. But now, it was time to fine tune things a little. I thought I’d try layering purple over it and see how that looked. Other than the purple going on a little thicker than I would’ve liked, I was very happy with the results.
By contrast, the third of the sky where the sun is rising is going to mostly shades of pink and yellow, but that will be for another post.
Painter of portraits and wildlife