I have been thinking about this exercise for some time.  I knew before starting which view I would tackle.  I have a regular dog route and at a particular point there is a great path which goes down and up again, receding into the distance.  This view I know very well and I waited to catch it on a sunny day.

Before heading out, on a  rainy day I tried a couple of different approaches to it from my memory, to get a feel for the shapes and composition.


using some coloured papers and a felt tip I tried to envisage the composition.



Abstracting it further with some compressed charcoal.



As the weather didn’t improve I prepared an A2 sheet with a quick layer of umber oil.





Finally we got a good day and I headed out. Taking an easel and carrying case and a bag full of paints and turps, rags, brushes and other implements.  A Sandwich a banana and large bottle of water.

Getting set up, the first thing I did was do a very quick sketch to familiarise myself with the scene again and get a composition for the picture.  I was tempted to miss this out, as I know the view, but I’m glad I didn’t.  It proved very useful to position the painting and feel my way around the amount of trees and foliage.


Really warm day…..I built up the greens before scraping on the trees.  From previous exercises and in sketchbook playing I am using more and more different implements for putting on the paint.  This is giving my surprise mixes of colours and textures and as oil is a slow dryer there is plenty of time to move it around.

These are not the greatest photos as I forgot my camera and was relying on my phone.


I used scratching into the paint for more detail and at this point I took this home, I was hot and the paint was starting to merge into a grey, I felt it probably needed to dry before tackling any more.

Once I got the painting home, I was very disappointed with the colours, the light in the forest and the sun on the canvas, combined with wearing sunglasses on and off against the glare had given me a distorted view of the colour.

Preparation for painting outside next time I will need to consider……

  • The supplies…..can I get everything into a rucksack rather than carrying a cumbersome bag.
  • Take a hat ( I was feeling a bit odd by the end of  the session as the sun was beating down on my head for about 3 hours in total.
  • Standing up is best, however as small stool might be a useful thing to purchase.  This time I was lucky as I had a fallen tree to sit on.
  • Take a camera next time …….my phone was ok but I could have taken better shots with my camera and taken the opportunity to collect other views and object i might use in further paintings.
  • Take a trial trip out to the view for sketching, I had convinced myself I didn’t need to this time as I walk this path every day, however you do look at things very differently when you are going to paint them.
  • Make myself a viewfinder.  I am aware that sometimes I get overawed by the whole view and find it tricky to just select an area to concentrate on.
  • Maybe take an ipod, the music would distract me from noticing people and when they notice the earphones they may not stop to talk to me!!  Actually this was not as daunting as I thought it would be most people are nice and think your quite brave to be doing this at all!!

I did learn that….

The sunlight combined with polarised sunglasses greatly effected the colour, or rather my perception of the colours.  This is tricky as I wear prescription glasses and my sunglasses have the prescription in them.  I will need to be aware of taking them on and off a lot more.

The little sketch I did on the spot, first, was very useful in getting positioning right.

I am pleased with the effect of scratching into the paint and have learnt to then paint on top of that too. My painting is becoming more multilayered and the area in the bottom right of the painting shows me future possibilities of this technique.

I am going to let this dry for a few days and go back in with some more colour to improve the contrast between the darks and lights and give some more definition to the trees.  I could sharpen up the foreground too, as there is not really much aereal perspective here, just a little in the top right of the picture, maybe more, would give the picture more depth.