Shaded Path, Nuriootpa

My adventure with oil pastels continues: this piece is my second large format oil pastel ‘painting’, and the first true landscape illustration that I’ve ever attempted. ‘Shaded Path, Nuriootpa’ is based on multiple photos taken around Nuriootpa, a town surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills, located in South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley.

The creative process

For this image I decided to record the creation process, by taking photos at significant points or after reasonable progress had been made. Tracking the evolution of an idea like this became an interesting process by itself, as it was now possible to go back and view previous incarnations and watch my ideas come to life as I made decisions and settled on style and detail across the image.

Step 1 shows the base sketch and initial colour blocking – my key focus here was to develop the concept to the point where I could see the balance of trees, sky and foreground and decide if I was happy with the overall direction as a complete image. My white areas on the trees indicate patches of bright light and this helped me to plan the application of colour with the pastels, a media that require a bit of careful thinking, otherwise it can be difficult to build light into dark – unlike my reverse process for digital creations. I was still to decide exactly what effect I wanted for the path surface and was also intending to place a few extra posts along the tree lines.

In Step 2 I began to work up detail in what I believed were the important parts of the image: the area around the end of the path, the hill line behind the vines and the front right tree trunk. I was now focusing on the texturing of the trunks – beginning to build up layered detail and discovering how to generate differing varieties, as was desired for the right side trees especially. Further work continued on the rear trees and I also began to detail the grasses that would eventually fill both sides – I was undecided on what I would fill the smaller area along the right edge with until after I had completed the small grass section shown here.

I was really happy with the progress of the elements at the back of the image, as shown in Step 3. By now I had added streaky clouds to the sky and had created a slight glow effect with my cloud forms rising off the hilltops, which added some contrast and a nice sense of depth. The remainder of the trees and grasses had been coloured and I was beginning to sort out my thoughts regarding the path and shadow construction.

Step 4 was all about the shadows. By now I had decided that the path would be a natural surface, featuring short to medium length grass around the outer area and worn grass with soil showing through the middle track. Again, I planned out the light and dark patterns as basic forms and proceeded to gradually build up these areas, using a wide range of colours to ensure that there was plenty of life within the shadows.

Step 5 shows the completed tree shadows and the final path shape. I was continually adjusting various small parts and details, particularly the brightly highlighted grass areas near the tree lines and I was also blurring some of the branch shadows that required little defined form. At this point I could finally see the overall image coming together and was pleased that my original thoughts regarding both the composition and the colour palette were bearing pleasing results.

The major element added for Step 6 was the tree canopies. Most of the forms for the small tree branches and leaves were no more than suggested shapes and I was a bit surprised to find that this part of the image was comparatively quite quick to finish – unlike the tree trunks or the foreground path, which were many, many hours of detailed work to complete. I continued to adjust some of the trunks, with a lot of attention on the shadowed trunk (third from the right) which I had basically left unfinished from early on as I wasn’t really sure on how to execute the final surface texture and look that this tree required.

Shaded Path, Nuriootpa

I finished off with minor adjustments and additions across the entire image and corrected a few mistakes that I felt required some attention. Estimated time for completion would be around 35 hours, which is longer than I would wish, but as part of a learning process isn’t too bad for this type of image. The final result captures the mood and quality of light I was wishing to reproduce and has given me some genuine confidence to tackle further projects with the oil pastels.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s