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.