Alford in the snow – third stage

Alford in the Snow 03
Alford in the Snow 03
Alford - after some thought!
Alford – after some thought!

When I really looked at my source, I discovered that my original drawing had wandered.  This happens when I am working exuberantly  with a palette knife as the photo on the left shows.

Now I have quietened a bit, and am working more thoughtfully with a brush, I have seen the error of my ways.  (I do paint carefully with a palette knife sometimes – promise!)

The wall and railings on the left were at the wrong angle, so that the road was too wide, and focus was lost thereby. The same was true of the wall and hedge on the right!  Oh, Steve!  Concentrate, girl!  But see what those simple changes have wrought, for the composition of the painting is greatly improved, the atmosphere more friendly, the whole painting welcomes you in.

Those points corrected, I added more colour and texture to the tall trees, making them less dense at the same time, brightened the twiggy hedges, and added some snow, that had been melting too fast.  The shadows cast on the snowy lane brighten the atmosphere – just the day for a good, brisk walk.  I feel altogether happier about progress and have reached that happy stage of refining the detail – and I am pleased with the finished painting.

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Alford in the Snow.

 

Alford in the snow – second stage

The next stage is adding colour – this is the bit I like.  I continued to work with a palette knife.  In this way the painting moves quickly, energetically even.  The colours are muted, red-browns, greys, and dark greens.  Some of the textures are created by paint catching the lumps and bumps of the underpainting, some by using the edge or tip of the knife.  All the time I am trying to match the tone of the underpainting so that the colour washes over the picture, enhancing not changing.

Alford in the Snow 02
Alford in the Snow 02

As you can see I got a bit too enthusiastic when working on the central tree!  It’s altogether too clumsy, not at all the airy leafless branches I envisaged and the trunk looks like a telegraph pole.  The colouring is fine, though.  So I painted out the tree and started again with more success this time.  I also added a suggestion of light twigs to the distant tree behind the church,  Then I reverted to a rigger to lighten the appearance of the middle tree, and to add detail to the gate and church.

Alford in the Snow 03
Alford in the Snow 03

I think this will work now but I feel I should abandon the palette knife.  I have had a crisis of confidence which happens to me at times, that is largely related to how much painting I am doing at any time.  A brush will be more comfortable, more controllable, though I don’t want to lose the energy in the painting.

 

Alford in the snow – first stage

 

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Underpainting

This is a return to an idea that I have used in both oils and watercolours.  Painting the picture in monochrome helps me to assess the tonal balance, and makes the composition easier to plan.  Some of this underpainting will become part of the finished painting so I chose to use French Ultramarine to add vigour to the shadows. I was re-using an old canvas, but the white acrylic I used to cover the original picture was contaminated with rust.  That was a piece of serendipity, as the pale orangy glow is making the blue sing already!

I’m using a palette knife for these early stages, so as to get the shapes and tones down quickly.  The composition works quite well – the long curving hedge meets the short straight one near the church where the dark holly takes the eye upward to the spire.  I put in the figure at this point – figures always draw the eye – but it also gives a sense of scale. The dark foreground on the right frames the church and cottage neatly.  The white gate could have been a second focus making for uncomfortable viewing as it is too far from the spire.  However it seems to be behaving itself.  Maybe the tree above it helps to draw the eye upward too.