Rocky Falls: Rough-In

Perhaps you’ve been wondering what’s happened to my “WIP” Rocky Falls. I’m pleased to say that it’s coming along nicely. I’m quite happy with it.

Here, today, I’m sharing the painting as it looked during the “rough-in” stage. This is a step in the painting process that I’m finding extremely helpful, one which I will use in the future for most of my landscape oils. It’s simply putting in basic colors — color-blocking, you might call it. Doing this gave me a chance to assess the painting “as a whole”, to see the relative values between one area and another. It was especially helpful when I stepped back to view the canvas from a slight distance.

Yes, it definitely does look a bit rough here, but that’s the idea. You can even see some of the yellow acrylic tone showing through in places.

At this point, there was still a lot of work to be done, and this served as a helpful guide when I began the process of painting the different elements of the scene — the wooded background area, the rocks, the waterfall, the pool of water in the foreground.

Step by step, the painting has progressed from an inspiration to a few compositional sketches, to a value study, an underpainting, and to a rough “color block-in”.

At this point I felt I was certainly on the right track with this painting. In coming posts, you’ll be able to see how it has progressed from this “rough-in” to the nearly-finished painting now sitting on my easel.

For me, working through this slow, steady, step-by-step process for painting has helped me gain tremendous confidence in myself as a landscape artist. Taking this methodical approach allows me time to think about what I’m doing, time to study the painting from different perspectives, time to develop the ideas and techniques I will use moving forward.

So now, with Rocky Falls almost complete, I’m looking about at other reference photos, thinking about what scene I might choose to paint next. I love feeling competent. This is a new feeling for me when it comes to art, and it feels really good.


    1. Thanks! It’s coming along. Doing this “rough-in” really helped me, I think. I was better able to visualize how the painting should look before I started painting the different elements. I’m really pleased with it so far. I’ll be posting about it again soon.

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  1. cool..i sort of always wanted to know what underpainting and color blocking meant, but my egeo sometimes keeps me from looking stuff up…lol..this explains perfectly. It’s something, too, i have ben doing all along- just didnt know what it was called..most of my landscape stuff in particular because when i step back i see things i wouldnt have before and sort of get a grasp on where to add and work around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep… it is really helpful, I’ve found. It helps me see the “overall” composition and makes it much easier to see where something needs to be tweaked a bit. Doing it first in black, white, and gray is helpful, but then adding those first suggestions of color really makes a difference in how we “see” what we’re painting, I think.

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