Painting a Colour Study

Ok, continuing where I left off, it’s time to paint a quick colour study, which I’ll use as a guide when doing the final painting.

I’m painting this on 5″ x 5″ oil painting paper, which is great for doing studies.

To begin with I block in the sky. With landscapes, the sky (or specifically the sun) is usually the main light source, so it can help to paint it first and then you can make sure everything else makes sense in relation to the light source.

The sky is warmer and lighter on the left, closest to the sun, and gets cooler and darker to the left.


Next I block in most of the other major shapes in the scene. I’m trying to make the color of the land in the light a bit warmer than it appears in the photo. Because the photo was taken facing the sun, the shadow areas were slightly darker than they should have been so I need to bump them up a bit.


Next I finish blocking in the whole scene, and sketch in the bridge towers.


In the final stage, I create a glow coming over the land in the distance, by softening the edge between the land and the lightest part of the sky.

I also merge the distant tower into the colour of the land, to enhance the sense of ‘atmospheric perspective’ – how objects in the distance appear cooler, lighter and with softer edges than objects in the foreground.

The thing to avoid here is painting the bridge too bright. I know the local colour of the bridge is quite a bright red-orange, but I need to keep it quite dark and muted to fit with the overall colour scheme and to work with the light source. The closer tower is pretty much just a silhouette as the sun is behind it, so I’ve kept the red there pretty dark and greyish.


There are things I’ll probably tweak in the final painting, but this gives me a good basis to work from.

I’ll hopefully get chance to start the final piece in the next few days.






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