Tuesday, December 22, 2015

William Hart's technique for studies

This unfinished Maine seacoast study by Hudson River School artist William Hart (1823 – 1894) gives an insight into his oil painting method.

It appears that he has pre-toned the canvas in the lower area with a thin layer of burnt sienna which was dry when he arrived the location. The gray area of the beach at lower left and the blue colors of the sea at right are laid opaquely over the warm underpainting.

Those blue colors are just a flat base coat that, had there been time to finish, would have been detailed with waves. The top area of the rocks are subdivided further and further with the brush, progressing from large forms to small ones.

William Hart, White Pine, Shokan, Ulster County, New York, c. 1850-'60
The idea of laying large, flat areas and subdividing them applies to Hart's watercolors as well. He lays down the entire silhouette shape of the tree mass in a flat, dull-green tone, preserving the white of the paper where he needs it. Then he systematically subdivides those green tones with smaller forms.
Watercolor from Albany Institute
More insights on Hart on Mike Ettner's blog


Payton Wood said...

Thanks for sharing...I just finished a piece done in very much the same manner. I think it relates to Speed's techniques as well, laying in the flat tones first. I was really happy with how it turned out. It made things feel much more straight forward in terms of process and freed me up so i could focus more on value, form, hue.

DeDe Plaisted said...

I find this very helpful. Do you have a link for Speed's technique?

DeDe Plaisted said...

I find this very helpful. Do you have a link for Speed's technique?

Lou said...

One of the things I most enjoy about your blog James is your introducing me to people (artists mostly) that I've never before heard of and then want to find more about.
Just spent a half hour on Mr. Ettner's blog (where I was bummed to find the Corcoran Museum has closed-scratch that off my bucket list-takes on new meaning. Drat!).

Rich said...

He also seems to move from back- to foreground:
Sky & clouds (sky with clouds, sea yet without waves:´) in all their subtlety look quite finished, also certain parts of the landscape at the left. Not so sure about the right.

Fabio Porta said...

I agree with Payton Wood on Speed. I am still trying to get the hang of it, as I can't add much detail wet-on-wet before the surface becomes too slippy and messy

Payton Wood said...

DeDe, as Mr. Gurney has stated Speed's book on painting is not available as a free digital copy anywhere like his drawing book is. But it is part of the book series on the blog, and I believe that the portion of the book that explains more in depth process is coming up in the next few weeks.