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.
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.
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.
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.