Painting Palmetto Shadows

Palmetto Shadows 14 x 18 (c) Mary Hubley
Palmetto Shadows 14 x 18
Palmetto Shadows Study 5 x 5 (c) Mary Hubley
Palmetto Shadows Study 5 x 5

These spiky shrubs are palmettos – kind of like a palm tree without the trunk. They’re everywhere here on my Florida island, growing wild and taking over great dunes of sand.

I started by creating a quick oil painting study on a small scale – my study is only 5″ x 5″; big enough to get the gist of color and composition.

Then I spent a few weeks painting Palmetto Shadows in a slightly larger size – 14″ x 18″ … Usually it doesn’t take me that long to paint something that size, but these palmettos are just so darned complicated! The more detailed, the more time it takes to paint and get right. This is the result . Palmetto Shadows edges on realism, yet it’s soft and impressionistic, and pulls me into the peace of deep woods laced with shady palmettos in the sand.

See these and more at maryhubley.com. I’d also love to sell you a painting! Just contact me for pricing.

–Mary Hubley

 

 

 

Quick Demo: Village House Study

Last week, I painted in the gardens of the historic Fatio House in downtown St. Augustine, Florida – a museum surrounded by beautiful Spanish Colonial-style buildings. I often paint small when I’m in the field to get the basics quickly. If I like the painting after I get back to my home studio, I’ll often repaint it in a larger size. Here’s my progress on a tiny study:

1. Here’s my paint box and plein air gear sitting in front of a Spanish Colonial building.
2. The building is located on tiny Aviles Street, in downtown St. Augustine.
3. I started by doing an initial quick sketch and then blocked in the main shapes. I did this in about 2 minutes.
4. Then I added color – which was way too bright. That doesn’t matter – I can always dull it down later, but at this stage I just wanted to plan the main color scheme.
5. Fixed! The colors are better, but not perfect yet. Toned down. But there were still problems. I wasn’t pleased with the placement of the building, the contrasts, or the colors. I packed up and went home.
6. Back in my studio, I sat with a glass of wine and thought about what it needed. I removed the building to the left, moved the little house over, changed the colors and details, and finished the trees. Yay! Happy with the finished results!

Small Studies – A Critical Part of the Art Process

It helps to do a quick 30-second 2″ thumbnail sketch before starting a painting. With a quick thumbnail, you can work out the composition, play around with different cropping, and indicate the lights and darks before you ever put paint on the canvas. I refer to my thumbnail sketch often as I start a new painting. It’s a plan. It keeps me grounded. And it speeds up that paint process.

A great thumbnail makes all the difference in creating a successful painting. I don’t get lost as much. It’s become a critical part of my process.

M. Hubley Thumbnail sketches
M. Hubley Thumbnail sketches

Color Studies

But I’ve found over time that I needed more than just a black and white sketch. It just wasn’t enough. I needed to include color in my initial design. Without a good color plan, my larger paintings got lost in grays and browns and mud. These setbacks could take weeks for me to muddle through. So, while I still do pencil sketches for everything, I’ve also started painting small 5×5 color studies in preparation for large-scale work. It saves loads of time, and just like the pencil sketches, they keep me on track.

My new 5 x 5″ small color studies are really full-blown mini paintings, and I’m selling them on my online gallery at Daily Paintworks.

 

 

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