Oil painting workshop – the making of “The Basil Farm”


This is a recap from my oil painting class / workshop I taught Wednesday at the Jerry’s Artarama in Tempe, near Phoenix. Here is the finished painting that resulted, so let’s go back to the beginning and see how we arrived there.

The-Basil-Farm - original italy oil painting by artist christopher clark, tuscan painting of tuscany, oil painting class workshop phoenix

I begin every painting with a charcoal drawing to use as a value study. Below the sketch, you can see how I’ve indicated the simple value scale that we’ll be using.

charcoal sketch for oil painting workshop with christopher clark in phoenix

Next comes the underpainting, where we wash in a simple color palette. This stage sets up the main forms of the drawing, indicates the main values to be used, as well as color notes for the whole painting.

1- christopher clark artist, oil painting workshop class in phoenix, take art classes workshops in phoenix

Here’s the painting beginning to take shape as we add opaque paint over our thinner washes.

1- christopher clark artist, oil painting workshop class in phoenix, take art classes workshops in phoenix

The painting is 90% there after filling in our underpainting with opaque painting, staying consistent to our decisions of light-to-dark, and warm-to-cool. This landscape that I chose to use for this painting class was very intentional: it had a simple representation of the major values to be used, it was layered in three easy sections (the sky, trees, and foreground fields of basil), and it utilized some interested perspective with the rows of plants. However I felt it was lacking some interest as I was nearing the end. So I decided to spice it up a tad.

- christopher clark artist, oil painting workshop class in phoenix, take art classes workshops in phoenix

I find that sometimes adding a touch of humanism in a landscape adds just enough story to make it interesting. I wanted to add a cool little farm house in the distance. Not having the perfect photo reference for something is quite common, so I used what I know about the world of form, perspective, light, and color temperature to invent my own little farm house. I first sketched a quick one with just pencil and paper.

house-sketch - drawing classes workshops with artist christopher clark

I used the information from the painting that I had about light direction and perspective, so that the house would really fit into the painting and not look strange.

Here’s the house painted into the landscape. I just wedged it back there among the trees, and even added a few birds fluttering about to add some motion.

house-closeup - oil painting classes in phoenix with artist christopher clark

And here’s the final painting, “The Basil Farm”, 16×20″.

The-Basil-Farm - original italy oil painting by artist christopher clark, tuscan painting of tuscany, oil painting class workshop phoenix

My students and I had a great time working on this painting, and we both learned a lot.

Contact me if you are interested in purchasing this original oil painting, or taking my oil painting workshops / classes.

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