For the past two weeks, I have been working on this scene in my weekly class to demonstrate one way of painting buildings. In the first demonstration, I washed in glazes, letting down the oil paints with copious amounts of “Zest-it”, as an underpainting for the buildings. You can see this thin paint on the left had side of the picture below. I have treated the sky and the distant church tower more immediately with thicker paint which should not need much modification later.
The passage on the right hand side shows the beginning of the overpainting. Not a lot of the underpainting is left, but just enough shows to give depth to the painted surface. The main value to me is that the thinned paint uses the white canvas to create lighter tones, just as one does in watercolour. This in turn means that the true colour remains, not deadened by white paint, so I am encouraged to use true colour for the second pass – more vibrant and alive. I used yellow to lighten my greens, reserving a blued white for the cottages themselves. I am a bit cross that I didn’t make my underpainting of the cottages darker, for then I would not have needed to repaint the wooden beams. Next week I shall work on the white cottages on the left.
This is one I did earlier – about ten years ago! I was decidedly chuffed with it at the time and the years have not diminished my chuffedness.
There is absolutely no back or middle ground here; all is foreground. It was a rather small waterfall, which you can judge by looking at the leaves of the sapling on the left of the picture. There are so many differing textures , mosses, shrubs, rocks, grasses and water, both still and moving. I had a field day didn’t I? The red-browns and oranges are working their spells on the greens and blues, but are totally outclassed by the moving water.
My eye goes to the flat rock bearing the brunt of the fall, then follows the crack in the rock to the bushes above. These curve over the fall where the topmost leaves of the sapling help the journey down to the stream. Sometimes the trip is in the reverse order – and I just love the way the waterfall curves to the right in a series of miniature falls.
Last August , I wrote about a painting I had found unfinished after reorganising my studio. I was struggling to re-engage with my former painting self, and , although doing a watercolour of the scene helped a bit, it still didn’t sort things out.
Finally, I have finished it – and am delighted with the result. (That’s two delights in a row, last week and this week, – I’m beginning to feel nervous). The crux of the matter was the shadow of the nearest building. Since this building is an addition from another picture with different lighting, I had to re-construct how far the shadow would stretch across the road – not a serious problem. However, I had quite forgotten what colours I had used to indicate the shadow on the sunny building. I found myself trying very hard to achieve the right tone and colour using Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Violet to no avail. I had used Burnt Sienna in the watercolour, of course. All was resolved when I remembered I had used Raw Sienna in the oil. The moral of the story is, “Don’t wait so long before you finish a painting”.
It’s a pleasing composition too, the active diagonal lines leading the eye to the old dilapidated building in the centre of the picture, while the trudging fellow anchors everything there too. People in pictures always draw themselves to our attention, self-centred beings that we are!
I had so enjoyed painting this scene that it seemed imperative to finish it. There was not a lot to do – half an hour might do it. In the event it took three half hours but I am pleased enough to sign it.
I love the way the sunlight brightens the fells. It looks like the rain has just passed over towards the right of the picture and the little yachts are enjoying light breezes. Autumn is fast approaching – the colour in the trees tells you that.
It works as a composition too. The clouds seem to come together in the middle, then the eye follows the distant hills down to the fells which dip into a tiny valley. Then the break in the trees takes you to the water. The sails are just enough to break the horizontal line of the shore. I just noticed that the whole picture divides into approximate thirds! Boats and dip in the trees on the vertical ones and shoreline and the bottom of the clouds on the horizontal ones. Serendipity rules!
You may remember I showed it at an intermediate stage. I have made the picture smaller because it was beginning to get too busy. This is something I must guard against – it’s so easy using this method to get too detailed too early, so I’m thinking of trying other ways of using the pencils. Having spent years trying to loosen up, I don’t want undo all my hard work!
As far as this painting is concerned, the greens have been the most difficult to achieve (tell me something new!), and it is not an issue that I have resolved yet. Successes have been the actual drawing which is reasonably accurate (!), the bushes on the top near the wall, and the boat in the water. The steps are a bit wooden (no pun intended). The paint moves with water very quickly so some care is needed with brush strokes. Not every false move can be corrected.
I’m going to try using the black and white watercolour pencils as if they were chalk and charcoal. I have done one or two portraits using this method and got a good likeness, better than when using colour. I think this relates to tonal value. My other thought was to try line and wash.
Looking back at last January’s post, I found things I’d forgotten about(!), things still on the “to do” list, and two completed.
I did finish the portrait, though I am less than thrilled with it, – competent but uninspired. I thought that I could reprise it using mixed media, and I still intend to do so. In fact I have chosen the canvas and collect potential collage papers. I have even brooded about colour palette.
But the real success of the year has been the improvement in my drawing skills. This is something that I am truly pleased (and surprised) about, and it is so liberating. I’ve been intimidated about drawing all my life and now I fear no more. That has got to be a result!
This year I am going to continue working with watercolour pencils, but try to use them more freely. I’ve got one or two thoughts on how to achieve this but they are still hazy so I will feel my way slowly and hope something clicks!
Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oil painting again – and I think my burgeoning drawing skills are freeing up my painting arm once more. This painting is a delight; everything is falling into place, (my happy place!). I do hope I find the time to finish it soon.
I love the rain cloud approaching from the right, the sunlight hillside, the woods bordering the lake. It’s the lower half of the painting that needs more attention. It looks like a pine forest at the moment, and most of those trees are deciduous – they would have to be otherwise no dancing daffodils!
The two smudges in the water will be boats soon, I hope, with their white masts bridging the line where land and water meet, then some work on the lake in the foreground, and we are done.
You remember my Meander Book with the elephant theme. It has gone through many changes since I first thought of the idea and it is, quite definitely, not going to be ready this Christmas, maybe not even next Christmas.
Printing with the lino cut as the background is not an option given the size of the paper and the sheer mechanics of printing neatly so many rectangles so near to each other. I may yet make a small lino cut of the elephant himself which would be altogether more manageable. What I have done is to make a template of the elephant, using it as a mask while painting the background in watercolour.
Now to dress The Elephant Of No Distinction But Infinite Charm. This proved to be more difficult than I first imagined. There is a considerable amount shown on my model so I had a starting point. I wanted it to be colourful, (naturally) not a restricted palette, then. On the other hand some co-ordination seemed appropriate. Decisions! Decisions! Do I dress his ear, or not? TEONDBIC has a cover of some sort on his ears but whether that is paint of fabric is a moot point. His saddle cloth is huge, giving an area which invites decoration, but if it’s too busy …..
I have drawn and “excavated” my image of The Elephant Of No Distinction But Infinite Charm. I decided to leave the elephant white and print the background. This gives me greater printed area which is easier to manage while the unprinted elephant allows for more colourful decoration.
But the printing is not as easy as it sounds. I had hoped to use acrylic inks, but they gave a very patchy response.
lino printing paints did better, but I now remember that I used a press to achieve a good print when I did the Christmas card last year. I can’t do that with this set of consecutive prints on a large sheet of paper. So, I have cut out my elephant shape in thick card, attached a handle for lifting neatly, and am going to use it to mask the shape while I paint the background of each rectangle of my Meander Book. I’m not going to complete this in time for this Christmas! Maybe next year!