So, did you notice the issue I alluded to in the Rocks, Plants, and Randomness blog? Can you see my drawing of the tree under the sky? It’s understandable if you didn’t, because unless you’re zoomed in it is difficult notice anything. This problem arose because of some particular quirks with how I work. As I have mentioned before I do more detailed and intense underdrawings than is strictly necessary, I also tend to paint very thin. Both of these factors together mean that the drawn but not painted parts of the tree are visible. I could perhaps get away with it now, but as the painting ages the phantom tree would become more and more obvious. Oil paint becomes more transparent with age.
Some of my intentions for this painting have changed dramatically as I’ve worked on it. A while ago I made a post about how I was experimenting with a new technique for painting clouds (which you can read here). As the painting evolved I actually quite liked the stark beauty of the blank sky, and wanted to leave it alone. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the too-dark under drawing forced my hand. Painting it over with some blue patches would look like a bad repair covering up some sort of damage. Repainting the entire sky would be very awkward and fundamentally change the work. I had already decided to truncate the tree. My best option: do the clouds I had originally planned!
I’m not quite finished with them yet, but adapting once again has been as interesting and informative as I could have hoped for. Painting the clouds on dry has allowed me to make them both wispier and sharper than I could have otherwise. Technically this research and development has exciting potential. The last wrinkle of this long chain of challenges means I will have to rethink the lighting of the work. With an empty sky the lighting could be hazy dense with moisture like a Renaissance Venetian landscape, but the clouds necessitate some variation. Though this might sound like a series of problems, for me the challenge is a large part of the reason I paint.