Oil Painting: Frank Serrano's "Oak Study"

11 Sep 2008

Serrano Oak Study oilIn the summer 2008 issue of Workshop magazine, Frank Serrano discussed his approach as an artist and his methods as a teacher. Here we present his step-by-step demonstration Oak Study.


Serrano Oak Study oil Serrano Oak Study oil
Step 1
During his weekly landscape-painting workshop in Southern California, Serrano noticed a beautiful oak tree near the edge of Eaton Canyon and decided to make that the subject of this demonstration. He began by using burnt sienna to quickly lay in the composition and indicate the major shapes of the scene on a 9"-x-7" canvas. Once that was completed, he started blocking in his darkest values.
Step 2
Next the artist began indicating his light values as he continued blocking in the major shapes. Not concerned with detail at this point, Serrano's goal was to cover the entire canvas and get all the shapes, values, and colors correct so that he would have a strong foundation on which to continue building the painting.


Serrano Oak Study oil Serrano Oak Study oil
Step 3
Serrano then started refining shapes, paying close attention to the negative abstract shapes as he went. He added variations of color within the masses, always mindful not to add too much information or contrasting detail that would break up the strength of the shapes.
Step 4
As he neared completion of the painting, Serrano continued to refine shapes, adding more detail to the oak tree and creating highlights with thick applications of paint.

The Completed Demonstration:
Oak Study
2008, oil, 9 x 7. Private collection.



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Comments

claudia Bardasano wrote
on 9 Jun 2008 9:26 AM
What a beautifull Oak you transform with your art. It is so romantic and poetic that can be oberved for ever . As artist I know how difficult is to do simple and at the same time a great piece of art! Congratulations!
Lena Francis wrote
on 9 Jun 2008 5:25 PM
This was very helpful to me. I have just begun oil painting (I've been using watercolor, mostly). Blocking in has been a frustrating concept/process for me. Straight lines come up and seem to ruin the work. (I've also done a considerable amount of Japanese ink brush painting.) Your comment about "making sure not to add too much information or contrasting detail that would break up the strength of the shapes" is quite helpful. I'm thankful for this epiphany and look forward to putting the exercise into practice. I love the painting of the oak tree. I've often looked at those trees years ago when living in that area.