When I once in a while get an assignment from Magic asking me to paint a landscape, I tend to go: “Ohh shit. I cannot do that. Why are they asking ME?” I have never considered myself a landscape painter. I am a creature and a figure painter. I aim for narrative and action. None of that stuff matters in landscapes. But I have found out that I really really enjoy painting landscapes anyway. Anyway, meaning: despite my unfamiliarity with it and despite my lack of go-to tools. What I do in order for me to solve the subject, is I treat it as if it WAS a figure drawing. I started building up the composition. I wanted to do a low horizon angle to get a wide line of the sandy beach directing the eye into the picture towards the building. I scribbled in some big shapes to get a feeling of the weight of elements and then, more or less, fleshed them out with details like the round windows and smaller towers. My original idea, as you can see on the sketch, was to do a dark silhouette of the buildings against a sunset, but it felt too gloomy. The observatory was the main “figure” of the painting. It felt wrong clouding it all in darkness. I chose a side light hitting the front tower and misted everything else out in darkness. The almost black rocks in the foreground was to give a contrast to the lighter colors. Those rocks being so dark in value gives a sort of better depth atmosphere. None of the dark areas in the towers are black so you perceive them as being much farther away. The cliffs and trees in the background farthest away was deliberately held almost only in blue and purple to pull them even further away: So in essence there are three layers: the foreground ( Cliffs ) The middle-ground or the “main Figure” ( the tower) and the background ( the cliffs and forest ) The “main figure is lit, the rest is not. The light was used as a projected light of attention. I added the birds to give motion and dynamics to an else static scene.
I simply love to paint water and reelections like these. Its because its daunting and risky. I started by painting he blended tone of orange to pink to purple to blue. One big transition around the sand area in the foreground. And then came the nervous part. I picked a light blue and paint in the top of the waves and the foam. I had to paint very random strokes to capture the way of water. That’s what’s daunting about it. After the wave tops it was time to add reflections. I tried to not make it too complicated to not get a too messy look. And lastly the light reflections from the windows.
The last change was the observatory windows. I showed the painting to my wife and she said: “Ahh; a Nibble-Tower”, and I knew I had to change it.