In this demo, American Impressionist Romona Youngquist shares her 7 steps to create a huge landscape painting.
Romana is one of today’s premier landscape painters. Petite in stature, she is known for her oversized, atmospheric landscape paintings. But don’t let her size fool you, Romona believes the canvas is a ‘war zone’.
She attacks the painting with her weapons of choice including sandpaper, brush ends, palette knives and rags. The canvas endures many layers of scraping, wiping out and glazing before the battle between woman and canvas is over.
In the end, the viewer is left with an exquisite, mood filled painting that harkens back to simpler days.
Tackle your own big painting with these manageable steps.
Before starting a big painting make sure you have a scene you’re excited about.
Work out you scene first with studies, photos, sketches. Mistakes in small paintings are sometimes overlooked but small mistakes in big paintings are magnified.
I divide my canvas into a simplified golden section with thirds.X marks the spot of the center of the canvas.
Then decide my horizon line, and my main focal point. Before painting, I ask myself, what do I want to say with this painting? With Poppy Farm, I wanted the quiet drama of a stormy afternoon.
Start painting the masses with dark abstract shapes with the four basic value planes: To learn more about the 4 Value Planes read the amazing landscape painting book by John F. Carlson.
- The Sky – the source of light is the lightest.
- The Ground Plane – reflects the sky, it is the second lightest.
- Slanted Planes – mountains, slanted rocks, hills, etc get less light.
- Upright planes – trees, buildings and other upright planes get the least amount of light falling directly on them.
Squint down to see the masses and values. Washes are a simple thinned out transparent red earth and ultra m blue. Now, step back to see whats going on. With a flat brush dipped in thinner, I’ve wiped out the light of the barn and out buildings and defined the shapes of the trees more along with some of the far mountains – remembering to keep it simple and abstract.
The Drama starts.
Lay in the foreground shadow with a cool green and the warm up a lift greenish yellow closer to the barn. This is where I start to define the trees using a dark rich green underneath with a lighter and warm on top. When I mix my colors, I try to add all the colors I’ll be using on my palette – this will make for a harmonious painting. I start to add color to the barn and foreground. The trees get more dark in the shadows, and lighter on top.
I’ve learned far more from my mistakes than my successes. Happy mistakes are a blessing in disguise. ~Romona Youngquist
Thicker paint! The fun part. Then I scrape into the barn tree area my palette knife. and with my big brush. I will frequently deconstruct. I think it makes things more interesting and its fun. I’m keeping the painting soft and simple but also leaving hard edges close to the focal point.
Step back and squint
Tip: Use big brushes until the end (except for wiping out the delicate light areas) it really keeps me from poking at the painting which can kill it quick.
I’m working color all over the canvas at this point. For the poppies, I see them in a mass and define a few closer to the end and keeping it simple.
My paint mixture is getting more opaque and concentrating on values. My paint application is getting thicker but I’ll still scrape and wipeout to soften edges, and then work more paint on top of the scraped areas.
Now I’m winding it down. I’m using my smaller flat brushes and palette knife more, adding details. The sky is really simple blocks of dark, medium and light values. I actually remember studying a scene like this in Oklahoma when I was 5 or 6. I noticed how dark the sky was and how it made the tops of the trees glow. And as dark as the clouds are the value of the trees are way darker. This has always fascinated me. I must have been a very strange kid?
Tip: Take a pic at this stage and transfer to your iPad. i love to take a break and study what’s going on with the painting. It helps to distant ourself and see what’s working and what isn’t.
Coming to the end!
I’ve refined shapes, intensified the focal point, made a few poppies pop but mostly keep them an abstract shape. I’ve pushed thickness of paint, texture, value, contrast and hard edges. After it’s dried I’ll lightly sand and glaze in some warm tones made of transparent red earth. Poppy Farm 48″ x 60″ is done!
Many thanks to my good friend Romona for sharing her inside tips to painting a HUGE landscape painting! Please take a moment to view her wonderful paintings on her website. I hope she has inspired you to give it a try sometime. ~Lori
*You can find more great tips on Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on Pinterest. Be sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America. Check out my website, LoriMcNee.com. ~Lori