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Monthly Archives: December 2012


                                                Happy New Year to all of you!



"Big Sky" by Judy Notestine

“Big Sky” by Judy Notestine

I have just added a new Student Art 1 page. Please  visit there to view big sky and water, buildings, trees and our efforts to create good compositional landscapes.

Thank you to all who participated in this recent class. You Rock!



The above painting is the one I chose to paint for an assignment in my current landscape class. The assignment was to paint a landscape with trees paying careful attention to how you handled greens as well as what techniques you might use to re-create their textures.  One could also insert a building or figure in their landscape, paying attention to its placement and form.

I used greens from my palette but mixed them with yellows, reds and magenta to calm down the garish look of brightness greens seem to produce when used alone. This has been a specific problem with greens for me. I used frisket for the dead pine tree right of center and pointillistic marks combined with wet-in-wet to render the other trees in this landscape. I was very careful to render the curvey forms of the buckskin horse, in the foreground, accurately. I tried to establish his form by painting his values correctly.  His shoulders pierce the “sweet spot” for a center of interest in the lower left quadrant so I left him as he was in the photo reference. What I was most concerned with capturing was the brilliance of light throughout this scene, both in the horse and the landscape. I am very pleased with the combinations of colors that I chose to subdue my greens and will continue to experiment with this challenge, in the future. One of the students in my class never uses greens for his foliage and trees, choosing to use combinations of blues and yellows and neutralizing that with other colors and his look great!


I posted this painting in an earlier post. It was a black and white sketch of an image that I wanted to eventually paint in color.

Since that time, we have discussed composition in our landscape class.  I realized I had not payed particular attention to where I had placed my center of interest which I wanted to be the Empire State building and the lit space that separated it from the other buildings that I took to be a street.

Knowing there are “sweet spots” located in each quadrant of my format I went back to the original reference photo and cropped it so as to place the Empire State building where I wanted it.

Image showing "sweet spots"

Image showing “sweet spots”

I divided my paper into three sections vertically and horizontally and circled where the lines crossed.  These areas are called “sweet spots” and are good places for a center of interest to be located in a painting.

The painting, in color, came out like this.


There were other considerations that went into this final painting, as well. I chose the sweet spot that ran from the lower left quadrant because the rays from the sun seemed to lead to that area and  created a rather nice pathway for the eye to follow. I was also intrigued with the long pathway of artificial light running across the dark back drop of buildings that curved around and led to the street running next to the Empire State building. The strong diagonal lines in the water in the foreground led the eye to the city, also. Prior to having studied composition, I would just select pretty photo references I wanted to paint and paint them as they were. I really had little understanding of creating a pathway for the viewer’s eye.  This is but one element of composition to consider but has made quite a difference, for me. I always examine my reference material for the best placement of a center of interest.

Other considerations for this painting were a primary color scheme and accentuating contrast (to enhance depth).

My techniques were use of liquid frisket, color washes, and using the primary colors to render black through wet-in-wet applications.

This was painted on Lanaquerelle 140 lb rough watercolor paper.

Thank you to Wet Canvas reference library for the photo used as reference for this painting.