October Harvest Demo

Armand Cabrera

I was drawn to this image of this old tractor with the pumpkins in the foreground. It has a timeless quality to it. Because this was on private property I first asked permission to paint there. The owner was very accommodating and allowed me to go ahead and set up and paint.

I set up and chose an 11×14 panel. I wanted the tractor to be the main focus with the pumpkins leading you into the painting. I started by massing in the main areas of the painting with some perspective lines for the foreground.

I am careful to get the value of each area correct. These flat poster-like shapes of value are what hold the areas together and will still be visible in the finished painting.

I work large to small so once the main shapes are established I begin to model the smaller areas and forms within the big shapes. I look for hue, temperature and saturation changes as opposed to more value changes. Most of the time painters break up the initial value pattern with too many value changes, this fractures the over all composition and weakens the paintings unity. To avoid this I constantly check my choices comparing their relative color and value and size against the rest of the established areas.

I’m ready for the pumpkins; I begin with a mid-tone color for their group mass and then model the pumpkins forms add some more modeling to the vines and tilled ground. I now soften edges throughout the painting where appropriate.

Geometric Planes in Painting

Armand Cabrera

Have you ever noticed that even though some artists have painted areas of light and shadow in their paintings, their pictures still seem to have no unifying sense of light? That is because they have incorrectly painted the planes that make up the objects in the painting.

Planes, as they pertain to painting, are one of the most essential concepts for creating a sense of light and space in your work. Planes help create the illusion of form. It is the ability to correctly identify where the planes are on a form and their angle to the light that helps to make a successful painter. Whenever you see a plane change, you must also change the hue, temperature or value to record it. Imagine the facets of a diamond. The flattened areas are planes. By observing the way light changes on these planes, you can create a believable form.

When painting the landscape, the idea of planes still applies. Think of the earth as a large, horizontal plane. Trees and buildings would be upright planes and hills and mountains would be inclined planes. We know that light from the sun falls in parallel rays. When this light falls on different objects in the landscape, it is the direction of the light in relation to the angle of the plane of the object that determines the brightness. When the plane of an object is perpendicular to the direction of the light—that place is the object’s brightest point. It is the consistency with which you paint this relationship that creates a unifying sense of light in your work.

The outdoor painter has the added challenge of atmospheric recession and the suns movement across the sky. As the sun moves, the angle of the light changes…and changes the way it interacts with the scene. This is why it is imperative to lock in the essential divisions of light and shadow as quickly as possible when painting from life.

Vienna Art Society Painting Demonstration

The demo I did today was well attended. Everyone was very polite and asked lots of great questions. I painted a 20×24 painting from an 8×10 sketch in a little less than two hours.

The threats of my friends to show up with air horns and heckle never materialized which was a blessing.



Great Falls Painting Demo

By Armand Cabrera

Since moving to Virginia two years ago this has become one of my favorite painting spots. The falls are spectacular any time of year and always make challenging subject matter.

Because of the angle of the sun I painted this 11×14 panel in full sunlight. Although this can be tricky for some I believe as long as you keep your palette and painting in the sun and you carefully measure the value relationships between objects you shouldn’t have any problems.

My palette for this painting consists of Viridian, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin,
Cadmium Red, Light Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow and Utrecht White This is the largest palette I use and I felt it necessary to capture the water and rocks in all their color.

With a number 8 flat bristle brush I start with a horizontal line to establish the base of the falls and quickly begin to place the major shapes of the painting checking for relative size as I go.

Once I am satisfied I have the elements correctly I mass in an average tone for each shape according to color and value At this point the paint is still relatively thin.

I start building form out of my shapes looking for hue and temperature changes. I also loosely establish the wave patterns for the rushing water as it leaves the falls.

The rocks to the left of the falls are in direct sunlight with almost no shadows so I describe their form with color changes. I refine other elements as I go trying not to focus on one area because of the light changing.

I have switched to a number 6 flat brush and continue to refine areas. After watching the water I get a sense of its rhythm and paint what I think are the elements that capture the movement. I paint the sky and trees behind the falls keeping them simple so they don’t distract from the scene.

At the very last I use a number 4 b flat brush and add accents where I think
appropriate. I also take my big brush and refine the rocks with a more
careful observation and rework a couple of the waves with more definition.

While I was wrapping up my picture these two kayakers came over the falls.
I Thought I would include it because it gives you a sense of scale of the scene.
You can see the second kayak to the left in the pool above the falls.
Both men made it with no problem.

The finished painting Winter Great Falls 11×14 oil on linen on birch board. My painting time from start to finish is an hour and ten minutes.