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Translating ideas into painting

In this post I want to go through some of the decisions that I'm making when preparing to paint a landscape, which may resonate with how you approach the task. Like many people I find inspiration walking around the countryside looking for subject matter that could translate into a painting. Here is a photo I took of a derelict farm. Not very contemporary subject matter but interesting I thought because of the mixture of architecture and vegetation. It reminded me of a scene from a late18th century watercolour, such as the Francis Towne example below, that revels in romantic architectural decay.

There are UK painters working in the UK such as Jonathan Hooper and Salvatore Fiorello that create beautifully simple compositions from city scenes that use particular colour palettes to control the atmosphere of their painting. I'm also aiming to cut down the range of colours I use so as to give my painting more expressive direction.

Although my impulse is to launch myself into a painting I have been trying to train myself to do some small composition thumbnail sketches first, in order to concentrate on the basic contrast of shapes and not get sucked into painting detail.

The idea is to work out where the main contrasts should go and get a sense of movement in the painting. Now's the opportunity to change the format of the painting too if necessary.

The idea isn't to work the whole painting out on paper but rather to identify what elements can be simplified, exaggerated or even omitted altogether. I need to remember that the photo I took is a reference, rather than a model to be copied, as it is also an interpretation, rather than objective reality.

I'll now have a go at putting these ideas into a painting and let you know how I got on next time!

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