The landscapes of Ivan Shishkin (Russian, 1832-1898) are notable for their truth to nature. He knew a lot about botany and painted outdoors on a regular basis. This autumn landscape in oil is about 16 x 26 inches.
1. The sky must have been dry or nearly dry from a previous session, rather than painted all wet together. If it was previously painted, it then have been "oiled out" with a very thin layer of painting medium to make it receptive.
2. He must have had a wide variety of brushes, and switched between them as he built up the foliage and branch textures. A big old, splayed brush, dabbed against the canvas, could have provided the foliage textures.
3. The branches are painted with a very thin round brush, and some of the lighter branches in the lower right of this detail seem to be scraped out of the wet paint with a knife or a brush.
4. The foreground leaf masses are laid on quite thickly. The full effect is loose and direct, but not "brushy"—that is, it doesn't look like a collection of brushstrokes.
-----The Shishkin painting is Lot #1 in an upcoming Sotheby's sale of Russian pictures in London on June 2.