Saturday, August 13, 2011

Painting Trees - II

The final painting - Changing the Light, by Robert Genn

It is a joy to watch the landscape painting process of Robert Genn, a British Columbia artist who works in acrylics. Luckily for us, he has filmed the process of creating several paintings, and shared the results on YouTube.

Robert Genn begins painting what will become Changing the Light

Changing the Light begins with Genn working on location on the shores of a lake. He begins to sketch the basic structures of his composition. Unlike me, he does not step back and turn his canvas upside down to check the composition (it's still a good idea!), nor does he begin with a thumbnail. However, he has been working en plein air so long that he no longer needs what is pretty useful to many of us.

Developing the painting

Notice that he is working on a toned canvas? In this case, it is toned a mid-gray. You can tone your canvas any color you like, if you want to try this – it is one way of pulling the colors together and harmonizing them.

Covering the painting with a wash

Genn then wipes a wash over the entire painting – another method of harmonizing the colors.

Changing the light... a good reason for the title!

Now the magic happens, when he brings sunset light into the sky (changing the light). Notice how he paints the negative spaces around the tree branches?

You can watch the video online at Changing the Light. Robert Genn's username is painterskeys, and you can also watch his other videos. To study the painting of trees, I especially recommend Forest Spirit and Cuckoo. You'll enjoy his studios-on-wheels, too.

You can see more of his paintings, and learn more about him, at

Genn also writes a thoughtful, perceptive newsletters, with thousands of subscribers. Each week he writes two letters, and then posts some of the responses on his website. You can read them – and subscribe – at I've been subscribing for over ten years now, and I always learn something new. I heartily recommend it.

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