I spent quite a bit of time on the initial sketch for this because I want a lot of detail in the final piece. I used the old tried and true method of making a grid for my sketch so I can break the entire painting up into smaller sections. I haven’t used a grid in years but it’s almost a necessity on this type of project.
After the sketch was done, I used clear gesso over the entire canvas. Not only does this prevent the graphite sketch from bleeding into the paint, it also gives a great “tooth” to the canvas for the oils.
After the clear gesso dried (approx 24hrs) I masked off the sky area. This just gives me the ability to be loose while painting and not worry about staining other areas of the canvas.
Paint Tip: Prior to starting with oils, you can actually sand the clear gesso down to make the surface smoother before painting. By adding several coats, and sanding inbetween, you can actually get a textured canvas to be pretty smooth.
Since I will be laying down a base coat of clear oil paint prior to painting the blue sky, I need the extra tooth on this piece – so no sanding needed.
Sessions 1 & 2
To get started, I first painted the sky area with a clear oil paint. This helps to provide a wet background for blending and making soft edges. The tooth added by the clear gesso makes it possible to have this wet surface and yet still have enough tooth to pull the oil paints off the brush easily.
After the clear, I dropped in the sky, using primarily cobalt blue (+white &/or black).
A couple days later, I blocked in the mountain range. I still have a bit of color adjusting to do, but this is enough to get things really rolling along.
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