Small Painting 29 River and Trees
River and Trees painted like the example in the book. 6″ x 6″

The painting above is my 29th painting exercise from the book Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings by Mark Daniel Nelson.  Like the previous lesson, this one is about massing shapes in nature.  In the example above, the river, the land mass, and the sky are all treated as generalized shapes. This type of simplification unifies a composition. The author points out, however, that looking past all the details in a complex scene can be challenging.

For my original effort at solving this problem I used for a model a photo I took at Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, Alabama. I got through the “massing” step just fine as the overall shapes of the sky, the water, the land and the trees are clear.  The problem arose with finishing it. It was one of those situations in which an inner voice kept saying, “Stop! Don’t add that detail! Don’t blend that stroke! Quit tweaking those trees and rocks!” But I just kept on adding, blending and tweaking. As a result, my finished product is way more overworked than the example for this lesson.

Deanna Williamson, Bellingrath Gardens, 5"x 7", acrylic on canvas, 2016
Deanna Williamson, Bellingrath Gardens, 5″x 7″, acrylic on canvas, 2016
Deanna Williamson, Bellingrath Gardens, 2014
Deanna Williamson, Bellingrath Gardens, 2014

See the person at the bend in the walkway? I don’t know who that is.