Church in the Wildwood

I hate following instructions. I’ve never been good at it. I always want to go off in my own direction. So, I knew this was going to be hard for me.

In my blog from last week, I said that I’d do a painting from Jerry Yarnell’s book(s) each week in an attempt to learn more. This was to follow the idea inspired by Julie and Julia. After all, putting together a painting from instructions is really no harder than following a recipe either.

I hate following recipes too. I remember this one time I was making cookies and my mom just had a feeling something was wrong, so she opened the oven door and the cookies (which had rolled into one big mass) was breathing. I’d OD’d my dough on baking soda after reading the measurement from the line above. Oops!

Anyway, I knew I was already going to have one factor against me.

So I lay out my sketch as in Step 1.

Initial Sketch

I knew immediately something was wrong. So I started measuring. First the book measurements:

Bank per book

Church per book

They both were roughly the same height. Next, take a look at the heights on mine.

Bank height

Church wrong

Do you see how the church height is so much bigger than my bank height? So I set out to fix it:

Church corrected

So now my finished sketch looks like this:

Second sketch

You’ll notice that I also had to draw the church a second time. The first time I had it too close to sitting on dead center. Now that I’m happy with the sketch, I get to destroy most of it when I paint the sky. I knew this was coming — it always does. So I’m painting along and I notice something’s really wrong, worse than the church being oversized. Take a look:

Something's so wrong!

If you go back and look closely at some of my pictures measuring the bank and the church from the book you’ll notice behind the gray that the bank and the church almost line up with each other. Now take a look at how far away my bank is from lining up with the church. I wonder if I’m ruined right here. It takes me a moment to work through the initial panic, but I do come through. What’s the worst that can happen? I have to repaint it, that’s all. So, I get brave and extend the land:

Land extended

A few minutes later, the bank is finished. I haven’t blocked in the church yet, but the space is there for it. Here, have a look:

Finished bank

So what have I learned at this point? Well, I’ve learned to watch the size of my buildings in the background. I do have a tendency to make them too large. I’d suspected that, but now I’d had proof. Also, while working on the water and sky, I learned that the hake brush and I really need to learn to work together. I swear, I’ve never had as much trouble with it as I did here. I always thought Jerry was kidding when I’d heard him say that people found the hake brush difficult to use. Okay, it’s no joke and I don’t know why it had to start giving my problems now.

After several hours of painting, I’d finished the piece. I have to say I’m quite pleased with it. My son thought I’d been working on an original — shows how much attention he’d been giving me since I had Paint Along with Jerry Yarnell Volume One – Painting Basics in hand nearly the whole time. However, he did give me some nice compliments on the painting letting me know he liked my style better while he did a thorough comparison of the two.

Yes, style. That’s probably why it’s so hard for me to follow instructions. I just like to start putting myself into what I do. Even here as I worked on the painting, I kept having to remind myself that I know how to paint and to loosen up. The analytical part of me wanted to focus on how Jerry would do it, how he got the brush strokes he did to paint it as he did. That lead me back to frustration. I’m not Jerry and I’ve spent several years going after my own style. Follow the instructions, but allow myself to be me at the same time. It’s really difficult. But that’s exactly what I need to do. I’ll probably come back to rant about this some more as I work on the next paintings.

If I were to do this again, I’d raise the sandy slope some — I think it’s too deep, the rocks ended up all lining up even though I didn’t think they were when I did the underpainting, and I don’t think I have adequate trees or reflections on the right hand side to act as an eye stopper, but overall I’m happy with how it turned out. That’s also why they call this a learning experience. It is hard to do everything at once, but if I can step back enough a few hours after finishing it to see what’s wrong with a piece, then I’m definitely on my way to knowing what I’m doing.

So, how did it end up? Here, have a look:


Church closeup

Tree closeup

The next painting is High Country Majesty. I’m looking forward to painting it. I’m dreading following the instructions!


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