The Painting of Cliff Cottage

This post is coming a day late due to a flat tire.  My family and I have been out of town since Thursday and while driving home on the interstate late Sunday night the front driver side tire blew.  Luckily we were all okay and able to pull over safely.  Less luckily we had to stay the night in a random hotel in the middle of nowhere until shops opened up the next day and we could buy a tire to go the remaining 183 miles to home.

Anyway, I’m covering the creation of my Cliff Cottage painting in this post.  It is one of my favorite paintings but it has also been one of those that I can’t stop messing with.  I think it has been “finished” four or five times.  Finally I had to add some birds and say, “Okay, that’s it, I’m done” and walk away.

Outlining the painting

The pictures for this one will not be quite as great as they were in my last blog post.  I didn’t capture as many pictures during the process so you will see bigger jumps between them.  However, I did start in a similar place.  I began by setting up perspective and lighting and then roughly working in shapes to the base sketch I had made previously.  I used basic tones to establish distance.  By the time of this picture I had also indicated where I knew the water would be using a solid color.

Carving the landscape with color

From the base silhouettes, I began painting in rock formations using mid-tone colors.  I then painted in some basic highlights and shadows based on where I had mentally decided the light would be coming from in the previous step.  After I had the basic rocks and cliffs done, I went on to the beach, painting in the sand colors and textures.  Once I had the sand looking how I wanted I moved to the water.  I worked in some reflected light and some refracted textures that I imagined would be coming up from below but I kept things simple at this point.  I then proceeded to paint a couple of “test trees” to get a feel for them and what look I wanted to go with.  Finally, I painted in the base colors and texture for the house and its roof including doors and windows with some basic shadows and highlights which are probably hard to see at this size.

Painting in the details and trees

At this point, I continued on what I had established before by painting in more texture and light to the environment.  I worked in the front rock again, detailing its texture more, including some reflected light from the water at its base and main highlights.  Beyond the shadows and highlights, it’s obvious that most of what I did here was paint in the trees and foliage.  I also added in some faint and subtle clouds in the sky.

Finishing the painting

As far as the elements of the painting go, there hasn’t been much added between this picture and the last one; a waterfall in the background and a few flying sea birds.  However the look is drastically different.  Part of this is from what I mentioned in the beginning of this post, not being able to stop messing with it.  I have probably spent as much time working on the atmosphere, lighting, and shading of this painting as I have spent on all of the rest of the elements combined.  On my final retouching, however, I reworked the water as well as adding the waterfalls and birds.

In the end, I feel like I was able to capture the idea I had in my head from the beginning if not the exact elements.  This is one of my favorite paintings because of how I feel when I look at it.  I feel peaceful and relaxed.  I hear the birds crying out, the soft sounds of the waves lapping on the shore, and the distant muted roar of the waterfalls.  And then when I focus on the structure in the middle, I can almost feel that warm intense sun that is gleaming on its walls.

If you would like to own this painting for your home it can be purchased in the store here or you can click on the store button in the menu above.

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Michael Simpson