Last week, I taught a workshop called "Painting Dynamic Landscapes from Photos" at the Pencil and Palette Club in Huntley, Illinois. "The Road to Somewhere" is a small demo I painted for the group.
Here is my reference photo-- with WAY too much information for me to process into a coherent design. I needed to simplify this photo into 3 values (light, middle, and dark) to be able to see my way through it.
Have you heard of the Value Viewer App? It's a super simple app put out by Plein Air Magazine which allows you to download your own photo into the program, and it will simplify it into 3 values for you. Artists have been creating value studies in charcoal and monochromatic paintings for centuries to guide their painting process. This little app just makes things easier and quicker, especially if you're outside with limited time!
I love to paint from the 3 value study-- I often put away the original photo until the very end. This way, I can play with any colors I like (as long as they are in the correct value ranges). And I often come up with a painting that looks more exciting than my photo.
I think that the most successful landscapes are actually quite simple and strong. Using a three value "map" allows me to nail down the composition right from the start.
For purchase information, please click on Ann Feldman Road to Somewhere.