The tree line on the horizon has a little more tonal definition now and the foreground some more tonal variation. I’ve also blocked in the man and his wife in readiness for further glazes. The man will eventually be a lot darker as in the original photo, but I’m hoping that the texture of the fabric of his suit will be visible enough that it will give the old man a sense of movement. I need to fix his right shoe as currently he appears to have a club-foot (sorry old fella). Nothing a little paint won’t fix when his undercoat is dry.

The foreground is still too vivid and flat, and the tower and main church building a little too flat and not vivid enough. Good thing the sky doesn’t require anything else doing to it!

Meanwhile, I’m still reading up on painting techniques and picking the brains of the old masters, so to speak. Bill and I went to the SAAM in Washington DC the other day to have a look at some of the brushwork employed by those that could. I was surprised to notice really quite how sketchy many of the paintings looked. Literally sketchy – most were no more than sketches in oil colour, with the merest of strokes in some cases suggesting an object or person.

Photo taken during my first visit to Edinburgh’s National Portrait Gallery, 2017.
This illustrates the sketchy style of brush-strokes used by many artists of the classical and impressionistic period.

It’s amazing what the brain and the eye fill in if given half a chance. The old adage, less is more, takes on valuable meaning in this respect. Taking this on board then, I am not too concerned with making my own foreground too detailed, because I really want the viewer to focus on the interrelationship between the old man and the church tower. The rest of the image and the elements within it should harmonise this relationship further, making the whole thing appear cohesive without being overly cluttered – again, in theory! I’m very adept at doing just that when editing a photo. However, it’s easier to do when you already have the colours and structural elements there to manipulate – here, I am pulling something out of nothing, so to speak.

I shall let the canvas dry over the weekend and return to working on it, hopefully with fresh eyes. I shall keep you posted!

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