Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week – Rolling Hills

Using a Grid with Acrylic

Rolling Hills is my favorite painting of the three large landscapes I created for the Sanford Hospital.  When I went back to photograph the pretty patchwork of fields I remembered, disappointment boiled. That year near Rollag, Minnesota, it seemed that the neighboring farmers had all planted corn, so  every patch was green. Luckily artists do not have to paint what they see. Painting the grid underneath first helped me make up other field colors. Here is how the painting progressed:

  1. A grid was created by drawing an irregular checkerboard onto the canvas and filling in the squares with repeated and varied colors.







  1. The landscape shapes, from my sketch, were drawn in and shapes were placed to balance each other. The road lead to the farm at a diagonal and the bales went at the opposite diagonal to give perspective. Note the dark shadows. Unlike watercolor, with Acrylic, the darks are painted first.







  1. Many strong directional brush strokes were added to suggest the rows in the fields. Letting the grid show has a transparent effect, giving depth and color to the objects.







  1. I was kind of naughty here adding cows to the landscape. Cows were on the iffy list for subjects. For me, they seemed to give truth to this painting. Farmers often get more out of their acreage if they let the cows graze in the lowlands. My new photos mooed at me and I decided to trust my gut and paint them in. At this phase I also focused on adding the shadows and highlights into the trees and bales for visual volume.







  1. I think I would have been done at this point, until I painted around the tree with sky colors. It had to blend in with the rest of the sky and suddenly took on a stormy look. Frustrated, I took a break. This was a commission and Sanford’s goal was to have healing art and they said no storm clouds. It was tough, but I respected their position. Looking back now, I wonder if it would have been acceptable.







6. It really didn’t take me long to fix the sky. I got mad and pounded on the canvas with the brush and suddenly it became beautiful. In relief, I refocused and enjoyed painting the lower right corner, finishing the piece.







You can sign up today online or contact me for a full workshop description. There is a registration form and you can pay a $75.00 deposit to hold your spot.

2020 Workshops Schedule

With Instructor Ellen Jean Diederich TWSA, RRWS, WSA

Building Transparent Layers in Watercolor

Workshop Tuesday-Friday April 14-17 9:00-3:30 p.m. Fargo, ND

Acrylic Landscape Painting

Workshop June 2-5 9:00-3:30 p.m. Fargo, ND

Beginning Watercolor Workshop

Workshop July 21-24 9:00-3:30 p.m. Fargo, ND


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