Landscape painter Jan Schmuckal takes yet another approach to painting landscapes – and painting trees, but one that also pays close attention to negative spaces. In this time-lapse demonstration video, Painting Demo, which you can find on YouTube, she begins by toning the entire canvas in a deep brown wash.
Next, she removes paint with a Q-tip, creating the basic lines of her composition. While she uses oil paints, which don't dry as quickly as acrylics, Open Acrylics, which have a longer drying time, would allow you to try this method using acrylics.
Next, she removes the color in areas that are going to be light – in this case, the sky and the sky's reflection in the water below – in other words, in the negative spaces. She defines the trees by removing anything that isn't tree....
Notice how she removes paint inside the tree, for the spaces where the light shows through? (Napa Valley painter Vicki Long calls them "sky holes.")
Once the shapes of her composition are established, Schmuckal then comes in with a brush and paint, bringing color and increased light into the dark areas.
Next she further defines the trees by painting the negative spaces around them – the sky, and its light.
Once the light in the sky is established, she returns to the trees, bringing lighter values to the leaves and branches. Throughout, however, she keeps the shapes simple – the details she adds never detract from whole. There is no element of fussiness here – there is, instead a wonderful sense of place, of light and dark, of atmosphere....
And here is the final painting!
You can see the complete video at Painting Demo on YouTube, and you can see more of Jan's paintings on her gallery website (Gallery 28 in Geneva, Illinois). You can also follow Jan at her Facebook page, Jan Schmuckal Tonalist Impressionist Artist. You can also buy her paintings on eBay, at Gallery 28 Originals Jan Schmuckal. I hope you'll follow the links through to discover more of her work – it will be well worth your time.