I decided to try painting this one on an Ikea table top. That's right, a table top. These table tops are very inexpensive, ($5.99 when I bought mine) and measure a little under 20" X 40" and are over 1 1/2" thick. They are quite sturdy and can be hung similar to a gallery wrap canvas.....without framing. I prepared my table top by first puttying over the screw holes in the back for the legs and then sanding the putty smooth. I then applied a sealer/primer over the back since it appears to be made similar to MDF fiber board and so like MDF could possibly absorb some moisture out of the air over time. Since the edges and the front were coated in a melamine type plastic I didn't see any need to seal those but I did sand them with a fine sand paper to provide tooth for the acrylic gesso that I applied in three coats with a fine foam roller. This is how I prep my MDF panels as well, it gives what I feel is the perfect texture for painting landscapes. I actually didn't gesso the sides, I primed them with a spray primer and then spray painted the sides and back with a black satin enamel. I don't plan on carrying the painting over onto the sides of the board so the black painted sides will become a separation of sorts between the painting and the wall when hung, similar to a frame.
This particular subject is quite complicated with many shapes involved so I decided I'd do a monochrome underpainting to make sure that it all works well as a composition before committing it to color. The acrylic paint in my Sta-Wet palette was kind of a jumbled mess anyway so I mixed it all together and added some ultramarine blue to darken it and ended up with a color similar to burnt umber.
I sketched out the composition first using a round brush, just catching the significant edges of the major shapes. As you can see I ended up redoing the top section of the creek a couple times trying to get a pleasing and realistic effect. I'd already started to block in the shapes as well since I didn't get the idea to take WIP photos until this point,
More blocking in
Now I've blocked in the top part of the stream. You'll also notice I went back into the upper right area and reworked it a bit. I decided to bring out the tree trunks more and adjust the foliage some.
I struggled a bit with how to fill the area in the middle since I stretched that area a little to change the composition to have the creek end up higher in the painting. This could prove to be even more of a problem during the color layers but all my sketching experience will help. And just like that class was over. In two hours I only got to a little farther than the mid point of the underpainting. The night just flew by.