I recently went to a 4 day painting workshop (2 weekends) with Michael Winters who always challenges one to attempt things beyond one's comfort zone. The topic this time was"Quirky Landscapes". We were shown lots of art books by artists such as David Hockney, Joan Miro, Henri Bastin, William Robinson, Sam Fullbrook, Egon Schiele and John Rigby. All are worth looking up to see their images.
We were to get away from reality and consider mood, colour, texture, design, simplifying images that we had as inspiration. We worked first in pencil and coloured pencil and then a canvas with acrylic paint. I used a photo of a mountain peak in Ethiopia for my first small painting, which I greatly simplified making shape and colour the important features.
The second small painting was again more design like with the mountain peak shape drawn from all four sides looking up to the sky (which wasn't in the photo at all). I got this idea from William Robinson who often painted from all four directions, not that this painting is anything like his.
The next painting was done on a larger canvas and was supposed to be in very very pale colours with all soft edges. I had trouble with this as pale colours and soft edges are not my style. And I used a photo of fields in Ethiopia where there were heaps of edges - and blending with acrylics is very hard to do. My fields were not as pale as was expected but I was happy with the colours from a limited palette - Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber and white. I darkened a few fields and the tree after the class exercise as I saw it as important in the composition.
The final painting was done on a very large canvas. It was prepared the day before with modelling paste to give texture, and string was adhered to it in places. I used a photo from Northern Australia. I painted the canvas red all over to begin with to give the painting a warm feel. I used a palette knife on the dominant tree trunk and chose colours that gave an outback feel... even the sky was orange.... somewhat quirky!
I loved doing this course and getting away from reality. If I have a good photo I can see no reason to paint it the same, except to prove I can copy!