These gray, cold winter days are perfect for rereading some of my art books. No matter how many times I have read them, I still learn something new - but often find that it doesn't work for me. Take skies, for instance, and the preferred progression of a landscape oil painting.
We are taught to work from the top down, back to front. This means painting in the sky first and working forward in layers. They say that the sky's coloration and mood sets the key for the whole painting. But that doesn't work for me.
I prefer to start at the focal point or the area of major importance and key my painting to that. My brush often has a mind of its own and I need to firmly establish my most important areas first and make all the surrounding areas relate to it. What started out as a sunny day in my reference photo might progress into a rainy, foggy day or even a night scene. To me and my way of painting, it make more sense to have the focal point or area of major interest set the key.
As a former teacher of mine once said, "We learn the rules to see how far we can push them". So read your art books, but do what comes naturally to you. It makes painting more fun - and maybe more successful.
My thought for the day.