Covid-19 Painting Therapy

Use your Covid-19 self-isolation as the perfect opportunity to practice your art. If you are fortunate enough to have painting materials and paper or canvas, or even just a pencil and paper, you have the whole creative experience at your disposal while you hunker down at home.

Study Time

Start the easy way if you are at a loss as to what to do, study. If that sounds intimidating, think of this way, YouTube is a wonderful place to start. Say you’re into acrylic. Search acrylic styles or acrylic color mixing. I love to sit down and geek out over mixing colors and abstract projects. There are millions of videos on it.

For a relatively new person, there are millions of videos on drawing skills. It’s the perfect thing for self-isolation. Study the areas you are weak in. Pinterest is a great rabbit hole to go down when looking for ideas and inspiration.

My Therapy – Actual Work

So I had in mind to do an abstracted sunset, as in simplified. So I looked around at paintings and photos and cobbled together an idea from three sunset pics and from a Tom Thompson painting in one of my books. Then I sketched out a VERY simple landscape and water. For clarity on the big painting, I did two smaller color studies first before I tackled my 3×3′ canvas.

Northern Reflections Study 1 Acrylic on Wood Panel 18×24″
Northern Reflections Study 2 Acrylic on Masonite 30×40″

Easy composition right? The colors not so much. The problem is when you even approximate reality, you have to play by most of its rules. And getting sunset colors correct is tricky. I relied on three photos of similar sunsets to get the gradation of the colors right and the high atmosphere colors close.

My goal here is not to show you how to do photorealistic paintings. Not my thing. I prefer to abstract nature and to use color to create atmosphere and emotion. My goal is to try to show my thought process and the reason WHY things are done, not just how.

Sketch and Block in Big Shapes

Sunset Step 4 (I’m so embarrassed I forgot to take pictures every step. I got going and got caught up in the moment.

I er, um, forgot to take pictures as I was going because I was going back and forth between the phots and the shapes and lost the narrative so to speak. Anyway, I did a simple sketch. Three lines actually. Shoreline and the two hills. We see a lot of that up here in Northern Ontario.

Choose the Bones Wisely

Next comes the decision about the dominant cool or warm colors. Colors in an abstract (or a simplified scene) form the skeleton of the painting. The shapes add the story. If you want predominant cool colors then blue must be the harmonizing color in each hue you choose. In this case, I want warmth overall with contrasting cool at the top and in the water.

Now Get Specific

In the last steps, I added green to the blue hills to give a subtle contrast with the reds above and added a rusty red toned down with green to the tree area as a direct contrast within the land shape. Next in the water I greyed down the blue and added muted red reflected sky. Then I added a smattering of color spots to give the water some sparkle.

The object here is not to give too much detail but only the abstracted shapes of nature. This creates luscious patches of color and sets the mood to a serene sun setting, possibly viewed from a nice deck with a coffee in hand.

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