Landscape step by step – the sketch

One step I forgot to include in yesterday’s post is the notan sketch, which I did right after cropping the photo reference to the size I wanted.

Here’s the simple notan design I’m going for with this painting:


I want to emphasise that sweeping curve of warm light that bends around between the darker areas on either side. That will be the focal area, including the brook itself.

The sketch

To get the painting started, I make a very thin grey mixture, by mixing all three primary colours, blue, red and yellow.

The paint is really thin, just a very small amount mixed with the walnut oil.

Then I roughly sketch the scene onto my canvas.

Detail is not important here, I’m just indicating the position of all the major shapes, and blocking in an indication of the dark areas:


Some people prefer not to do an initial sketch like this, avoiding anything that looks like a line drawing, but I find it useful to have this as a guide. All the ‘lines’ will be painted over in the next stages anyway, so I don’t have a problem with it.

Again, this drawing can be adjusted as the painting progresses, but the more accurate you can be at this early stage, the less adjustment you’ll need to do, so you can just get on with filling the canvas with colour.

The next stage will be blocking in, starting with the darkest darks, and getting progressively lighter. Join me tomorrow for that!





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