Landscape oil painting demonstration
Anthony Salvo, "Sparkling Cliffs, Inspiration Point," 2016, oil, 8 x 16 in., Plein air

Anthony Salvo (b. 1959) shares a step-by-step plein air oil painting demonstration, explaining the four basic stages for creating a landscape.

3 Plein Air Landscapes by Anthony Salvo:

plein air oil paintings
Anthony Salvo, “View From Cliff Drive,” 2016, oil, 12 x 24 in. Collection the artist Plein air
plein air oil paintings
Anthony Salvo, “Evening Inspiration, Back Bay, Newport Beach,” 2016, oil, 10 x 16 in. , Collection the artist, Plein air
plein air oil paintings
Anthony Salvo, “Morning at Big Bend,” 2016, oil, 9 x 12 in. Collection the artist Plein air

4- Step Plein Air Oil Painting Demonstration: Anthony Salvo’s “Sparkling Cliffs”

Step 1: Create a quick compositional sketch. This one helped Salvo establish the placement of shapes, the horizon line, and the central vertical axis of the composition.

Landscape oil painting demonstration
Step 1: Compositional sketch

Step 2: Rough in an indication of the major shapes and edges with warm washes of oil color.

Landscape oil painting demonstration
Step 2: The rough-in stage

Step 3: Make quick strokes of oil color with a flat brush. Here, Salvo indicates the warm sunlit shapes and the cool shadow forms.

Landscape oil painting demonstration
Step 3: Quick strokes of oil paint

Step 4: Refine the shapes, being careful not to lose the quick, gestured look of the painting.

Landscape oil painting demonstration
Step 4: Refine the shapes. Final landscape painting: Anthony Salvo, “Sparkling Cliffs, Inspiration Point,” 2016, oil, 8 x 16 in., Plein air

Creating larger paintings has forced Salvo to work with bigger, bolder brushstrokes of oil color and very few details because of the time it takes to cover larger canvases. “I want my style of paint application to be loose but readable,” Salvo said. “That is, I want there to be a lot of energy in the brushstrokes and I don’t want to noodle the details to death, but I want the pattern of shapes, values, and colors to clearly indicate the subject that inspired me.

“I automatically have a graphic style since I was educated as a graphic designer and worked at creating readable images, and I always try to capture the light and sense of the moment in the landscape. At the same time, I want the finished pieces to clearly read as paintings, not as photographs. I have the skill to paint in a photorealistic style, but I’m not interested in doing that. I’m using an Impressionist style and striving to use thicker paint.”

Plein air artists
Anthony Salvo

Salvo does studio paintings as well as plein air pieces, and some of those are much larger and have more detail. “The big paintings that are 30 x 36 inches look much tighter, but if you were to see them up close you would recognize they are actually fairly painterly,” the artist says.

“I’ll admit that, like many artists, I have trouble maintaining the freshness of a plein air painting when I enlarge it into a studio painting. When I am outdoors, I feel pressured to do as much as I can in two or three hours, whereas in the studio I have all the time I need to elaborate on the details. I’m striving to go through that translation process while maintaining the ‘Johnny on the Spot’ look of the plein air pieces.”

plein air oil paintings
Anthony Salvo, “Diver’s Cove,”
2016, oil, 12 x 24 in. Collection Leslie Alsenz Plein air

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