Christine Lashley - Fine Artist

Step-By-Step Oil Painting

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Watch "Virginia Bluebells" Get Painted!

Riverbend Park, Virginia - Photos taken right after painting the canvas

Notes For Painting On-Location: Plein-air painting is a fantastic way to involve all your senses in creating a painting. The special sense of place and unique lighting of that one singular moment hurry the art along in a frenzy of creativity that cannot be duplicated in the studio. Photos shot on location so often disappoint and are always second-best to painting on-site. The human eye sees many more colors and subtleties that no camera can capture. My painting was created entirely on location. The reference photos you see here (above) were taken right after the art was painted. This painting was sold to a passerby that saw me create it.

Palette Notes: My palette has Grumbacher Max Oils in: Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue, Thio Violet, Barium Yellow Pale, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Burnt Sienna, Napthal (Quinacridone) Red, Madder (Duo oils) and Thalo Green. My Titanium White is from Holbien's Duo Oil line (I've found it creamier than the Max white and it's easier to open/close the tube). Sometimes I add different colors, but this is a good array of paints. I do not thin with a medium as these are water-mixable oils. Preliminary drawing strokes and first swipes of color use some water for a thinner mix. Top layers of paint are always painted full-strength with no thinning.


1: First Steps - Create A Rough Drawing. The drawing was done in one of my favorite colors for landscapes: Thio Violet, made by Grumbacher. Usually I use a burnt sienna color for the initial drawing, but I wanted to capture the soft shimmering spring light I saw... and the focus of the artwork was going to be the fabulous pink to purple-blue of the Virginia bluebell wildflowers.


2: Start Blocking In Color: I start applying large areas of color. The trees will be the darkest darks, but I keep them warm with my reds and Burnt Sienna. Ultramarine Blue or a tiny dab of white is added to darken and/or dull some areas. The sky, river and background land mass are worked together. I keep these areas light to contrast with the trees.


3: Continue Blocking In Color: Here I work the foreground, watching my values and keeping my color choices more vibrant near the viewer. The bluebells were just coming into bloom and only a few were open, but I painted them as if they were at peak bloom, and as a haze of iridescent purple-blue (they are an incredible sight in full bloom).


4: Finish Blocking In Stage and Start to Refine: All the canvas has been covered and I start to adjust colors and shapes. The paint remains wet during the painting session and so can be manipulated easily.


5: Continue to Refine

I keep adjusting colors and shapes paying attention to the areas of interest along the path... branch shadows and plant clumps. Sapplings are added with the brown tree color mix and glide over the background paint, but also mix slightly with the wet paint. This creates a feeling of atmosphere.

"Virginia Bluebells" - sold
oil on canvas, 9 x 12"

6: Finishing Touches

The last touches of paint are dabs of yellow and green to suggest the first tiny buds on the branches as they pop open in the warm spring sunshine.