When I made the half-hearted commitment to paint 100 meadows, I didn’t think I would make it this far. I was planning on not making it this far. But, this challenge has been a surprise and a gift. I never expected to see this much progress or to experience this much growth. I didn’t know I would start to feel at home in front of an easel and working with oils, a medium that was so foreign and intimidating, would become a preference.
Above all, it’s shown me that artistic ability, which most of us stand back and watch people who possess it with some element of wonder and envy, can be learned, practiced, and improved. Seeing that truth play out at the end of my own brush has encouraged me to challenge myself even further and not shy away from subjects that intimidate me.
I hope some of you have been encouraged through watching my journey as well. My paintings aren’t perfect or even all that great compared to trained artists with thousands of studio hours under their belt, but I can see clear progress from painting #1 to painting #80 and I know they will keep getting better and better as I continue to practice and soak in all of the information I can about oil painting.
Some areas I really worked on during this 20 were…
- mixing more natural greens
- varied brushwork
- capturing light
- foreground detail
- depth and perspective
So, here is the next batch – numbers 61-80…
If number 61 looks familiar, that’s because it’s the twin to number 60. This is the last painting where I painted two versions side-by-side. It was a great exercise, but I wanted to change things up and paint different subjects. Numbers 60-61 are still some of my favorites, though. I love the barns and was proud of the background trees and the wildflowers.
This one is a redo of number 11 (see below). I really loved the sky and mood in this picture and wanted to tackle it again. I painted it without looking at number 11 and I was pretty shocked when I compared the two. I think this was the first time I felt like I could clearly see marked improvement. My brushwork was more varied, my colors were better, and it had a softer look overall.
This one was a little tricky, because I was using a reference photo that was pretty heavily filtered, but I loved the farmhouse and wanted to experiment with a more playful style. Overall, I like this one, but the shadow of the house is going in the wrong direction!
I used a glaze for the first time on this painting and I love how it turned out. The greens were a little bright, so I toned it with a soft brown/red when it was dry. I’m excited to experiment with glazes more.
I will admit that I was scared to paint this one! I knew I need to work on my foregrounds and the only way I would do that is if I painted pieces that needed detailed foregrounds. So, I selected this one and had a real breakthrough. I used a mop brush to tap on the white wild flowers and it worked!
I continued the foreground work by picking this picture that was all about the foreground. It was a challenge, but I was pleased overall with how it turned out.
I painted this one with some leftover paint from number 66. I didn’t use a specific inspiration picture, but combined a few together for a quick and simple landscape.
I was excited after completing this one! It was my best road and fence to date! I’m learning by this point that I really like painting roads, barns, and fences.
I wanted to focus on light and shadow, so I selected this photo as a challenge. I struggle when the green grass and trees were taken away and the shadows across the road aren’t lining up right, but I did like the shadows on the road in the foreground and I learned a lot from this painting.
This was another one I was scared to paint, but that’s why I finally picked it. I was certain I would butcher that windmill! It’s not perfect, but I am happy with it overall.
I decided to really focus on clouds, so I took an online cloud study class and it helped a lot. I selected this painting to do after those studies, since the clouds were the star of this reference photo. I really love the movement in this one, even if the foreground is a little clumsy.
This painting is another repeat (see original below). I painted #41 again, but I changed out the barn and worked on depth and light. The clouds, greens, depth, and light are all improved, but the barn wasn’t shaded properly and the shadow got away from me a little bit. All things to take note of and work on next time! I do love the foreground, though, and the background trees on the left.
And I decided to redo another one I wasn’t satisfied with, #26. I think I made improvements, but I also learned that the inspiration picture (which I took), didn’t really give me much to work with.
So, I started sorting through my photos to find pictures with dramatic light. This one definitely had that! I was about ready to throw in the towel halfway through, but I pushed on and I love how it turned out.
So, I went for another sunset and dramatic sky. This one really pushed me and it took me a long time to work and rework that sky, but I’m glad I embraced it. I was also more comfortable leaving parts of the painting darker.
Now, I am in love with light! I’ve read about how key lighting is, but now I was experiencing it. I found this field with a pool of light in the middle and it was perfect to continue to play with light and shadow. This is one of my favorites.
I found an old photo on my phone of a picture I took in Gettysburg one evening. The shadows and sky were dramatic and perfectly suited to paint. I love the silo, but some of the buildings are a little…unfinished, maybe? They could’ve used a little more details, I think. They were blown out in the photo, though.
If you remember the haystack/meatball paintings from the last batch… well, I decided to work on my haystacks. This one also had stunning clouds and some pretty light, so it was a good study. I think we can agree that they don’t look like meatballs, right?
On with the challenge and let’s try snow! I will say that snow isn’t my favorite, but it was a good opportunity to try something new. I did wimp out and I didn’t paint the horse, but I was very happy with the barn. I felt like my siding was getting better!
And number 80 is definitely my favorite so far! I used the photo below as inspiration, but I “zoomed in” and added more dramatic light. I enjoyed every minute of painting this one and I can see (and feel) my confidence growing.
And, just in case you forget where I started, here is #1 and #80 together…
All of the originals have sold, but prints of 1-80 are available on Society6. And I’ll be painting more. Twenty more landscapes and then I’m going to start another challenge. I put up a poll on my Instagram Stories…Portraits or Clouds? Portraits won out by a narrow margin. I’m not going to paint 100, but let’s so 50. The 50 faces project.
I will be asking for photo reference submissions, but wait to send them in until I give details about what photos will make good studies for me. I need pictures that will make things easy for me in the beginning! I’m looking forward to it, though. I will continue painting barns, roads, fences, and meadows, though, so I don’t lose the skills I’ve been developing.
I’ll also give an updated post, sharing what I’ve learned so far about oil painting and how my preferences are already changing.
If you missed my earlier posts on oiling painting or the 100 meadows project, you can find them here…