Virtual Art Academy

Cat. No. 1478 Enniscorthy Life, Ireland

Cat. No. 1478 Enniscorthy Life, Ireland – 25cm x 20cm – Oil on Linen – 2022

Photographic Reference for the painting

This is the scene, although the light effect is not as strong as when I first saw the scene. You have to catch the light very quickly in Ireland, before the clouds arrive from the Atlantic!

I was attracted to the light hitting the buildings at the end of this lively street in the pretty village of Enniscorthy, in Ireland. Here are the six 6 key principles I used in this painting to make it work.

  1. I created a strong temperature contrast between the two sides of the street. I emphasized this temperature difference, keeping cool colors such as blues and violets on the right, and warm yellows and oranges on the left. This enhances the light in the painting and creates the mood.
  2. I kept a clear contrast between large shapes painted with thinned paint and relatively little detail, with the focal areas painted using thick impasto strokes to add texture and interest. The idea is to more closely match the way we look at the world. We don’t look at everything equally, but instead focus on a few salient details. In a similar way you need to do this with your paintings. Do not paint detail everywhere, but be selective about it.
  3. I used small shapes in the focal areas, and larger shapes everywhere else. This is a general principle of painting focal areas. Dense areas of shapes with sharp edges attract our interest more than large shapes.
  4. I used calligraphic lines, particularly in the foreground street, in order to add interest to the, otherwise flat, colors used in those areas. I spent a lot of time in the East where calligraphy is an important art form. There I learned the importance of calligraphy in a painting. Do not always use the same type of brushtroke. Instead, vary its quality to add interest to your painting.
  5. All the impasto strokes were laid down confidently, and then left alone. Any messing around with the brushwork, after the first application of the paint, would have ruined the abstract quality of the brushstroke. This is easier said than done, because it means you have only one shot at the shape and color. Simple confident brushstrokes convey a much stronger abstract quality to the painting that is very important to its aesthetic quality. Too many strokes causes confusion, and over-blending results in the color notes in your painting losing harmony. In a piano the notes you can choose to play are limited and distinct. They all have a precise relatioship with each other. If you blend everything, you destroy this note struture. It is analogous to having a piano with a million keys. Harmony becomes impossible. The same principle applies to painting. Be definite about your color choice for each brushstroke, because each brushstroke is a note in the musical structure of your painting.
  6. The flat ground shape may look like one color, but I subtly changed the color as you move further away, in order to convey a feeling of distance. I greyed and cooled the color as you move into the background. Maintaining a sense of reality in your work is the key to the expressive quality of the painting. That’s why purely random abstract colors in a painting does not work. It is critical to respect nature, and its visual principles, in order for your painting to have a strong emotional impact on your viewer.

Available for sale. Please contact me and quote the catalog number.

Online painting classes

Here are the online painting classes in the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program that teach the techniques I used in this painting:

  • C09 Focal Point And Focal Area
  • D09 Atmospheric Hue Changes
  • E06 Atmospheric Saturation Changes
  • F06 Thick & Thin
  • H02 Brushwork in Focal Areas
  • H07 Contrast of Brushwork

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you find it useful. If you would like to get free painting tips by email, please sign up for my free tips newsletter.

If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, take a look at my online painting classes.

Happy painting!

Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy

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