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Berry Pickers

June 2, 2011

Berry Pickers, 11x14, Gouache

While in Gadsden, Alabama for the Southeastern Plein Air Invitational, we painted one day around a farm about ten miles out of town in Little Wills Valley.  I missed this spot on that day, but I returned on my way out of town at the end of the week.  Took a few photos of this and other interesting spots.  I’ve been toying with the idea of including an occasional figure in some of my landscapes, and this scene seemed right for a couple of little berry pickers.  I spent some time collecting reference images of children picking flowers, berries, etc., but none of them worked well.  I ended up just sketching these two little girls into the picture out of my head.

This one is a bit different from my norm (if I have a norm), but was fun to do.  I took a different approach to the start of this painting by doing a pencil sketch of the scene directly onto the board:

I then set the pencil sketch with a very light touch of spray fixative.  Experience tells me that this has to be a very light coat.  Too much and the paint won’t adhere well to the board.  Once I let this dry, I painted directly over the sketch with gouache.  I was able to make some adjustments even over the fixed sketch.  Once paint started going on, I wasn’t happy with the barn, so I wiped the paint off.  The pencil sketch remained.  Since I paint somewhat thickly, I was able to repaint the barn without the underlying sketch showing through.

Without the figures, this is a fairly simple scene.  The preliminary sketch wasn’t really necessary in this case.  It was, however, one of those valuable little exercises.  Now I know that I could paint directly over such a sketch in the case of a more complicated scene.  Even now, after several years, this is a continuous learning experience.

I love what I do.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret Quin permalink
    June 3, 2011 5:36 pm

    Hi Ralph,
    I have 2 little blond headed granddaughters (4&6), and a grandson & granddaughter (8&5). This painting reminds me of how they’d look picking berries. I like the contrast of the red barn & the blue dresses. It is neat!! Thanks for sharing!

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