Ryan S. Brown | Landscape Painting Initial Lay-In and Refinement

Ryan S. Brown’s evocative paintings–and even the frames–are planned from the outset, down to the smallest detail. His work is featured in The Artist’s Magazine (January/February 2013). Keep reading to see his step-by-step landscape painting demonstration of A Painter’s Inspiration (below; oil, 72×84).


Ryan S. Brown, tone the canvas
1. First I toned the canvas with a warm brown (Gamblin’s asphaltum and a little ultramarine blue) that I was hoping to preserve in some areas as a subtle transparent element coming through in the final painting. I can’t always preserve the tone (later on I used a thicker, impasto paint, so the undertone isn’t visible here). Then, after the toned canvas was dry, I transferred the final compositional drawing onto it.


Ryan S. Brown, lay in the sky
2. Next I laid in the sky. I wanted to establish this first for two reasons: so I could key the painting off the sky color and value, and because I was working background to foreground to better create a sense of depth.


Ryan S. Brown, paint the reflection
3. I needed to paint the reflection in the pond at the same time I painted the sky, using the same large pile of color, so the sky and the reflection would properly correspond.


Ryan S. Brown, painting trees
4. Painting the trees and other plants into the sky while it was wet was important so I could create interesting edges. At this stage I also established color continuity and harmony. I knew the color harmony I was going for because I determined it long before this in the studies I did from life.


Ryan S. Brown, preparatory work
5. I find that all of my preparatory work really pays off. Here you can see, to my left, one of the preliminary field studies I did from life and used for color reference.


Ryan S. Brown, initial lay-in
6. After I completed the initial lay-in, I had a good idea where the painting was going. It’s important for me to be able to “see” the end as early in the process as possible.


Ryan S. Brown, more structure
7. Next I began to push the initial lay-in to a more structured and finished stage, element by element, step by step.


Ryan S. Brown, A Painter's Inspiration
8. Proceeding from the previous stage to the finished stage of A Painter’s Inspiration (above; oil, 72×84) was just a matter of isolating each component of the painting and refining it as much as it needed to be refined. Every element has a role to play in the harmony of a painting. If anything in the piece is too sharp or too defined, that portion detracts from the greater overall effect. The difficulty is in balancing all of the elements in order to achieve a refined surface while maintaining the integrity of the overall impression. Preserving this balance necessitates constantly stepping back and judging the whole.

Ryan S. Brown’s (www.ryansbrownart.com) paintings begin as concepts that he envisions down to the most minute detail before his brush touches canvas. To see another of his landscape painting demonstrations, click here. And, read a full feature article on his work in the January/February 2013 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.


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