Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How many ways of painting the same scene.

Well of course there are an unmeasureable number of ways of painting essentially the same picture. Think of the haystacks or lillies of monet!

In my last post on this blog, I talked about a painter, Paul Bailey whose work I had come across on Facebook, I was inspired by some of his watercolours, and wanted to know if I could get the same sort of feel using soft pastels. The theme which particularly captured my attention was of trees on a hillside, sillouetted against a sky. Now, if you have been reading this blog, you will know I have used this theme a number of times previously but they were very different in their feel to those of this artist. For the last two weeks I have been experimenting at my weekly art group sessions to try and replicate the watercolours in artists' pastels.

I am not sure if I succeeded in my original aim but I am very pleased with the results and hope that you will enjoy them as well.

This painting was the first, I had given a little thought to the trees, mostly with respect to the colours I would use to obtain the sense of recession. But most of my attention was on how I would achieve the textures and intense colour which I wanted in the foreground.

I selected a palette of colours, I always tend to take the main colours out of my box and line them up ready for use. This saves scrabbling about searching for the next / right colour that I want to use and helps me to keep up a momentum once I start painting. No time to lose that inspiration!

I had decided that I would create a sloping hillside with a "valley" running through the centre and used a bright red colour (more than one in fact) to paint diagonal slopes to the nearest hillside. I used the sides of the pastel sticks with a light pressure to create a textured appearance on the black art paper. The further slopes were similarly painted with a less intense red and with the introduction of a purple colour, to give a feel of recession again. The dark blues used in the lower corners, I must admit, were a reflection of the reference painting that I was using and seemed to me to help contain the picture within the paper.

The sky was also very similar to the reference. A very light raw sienna along the hill tops gave the impression of a sunset (another favourite subject of mine). A light blue was used for the bulk of the sky with two (yes I know it should have been one or three) large massses to represent clouds.

I drew the trees still thinking about that recession I wanted to show, and did not realise until I had finished just how rigid and wooden (no pun intended) they were. I immediately started to think about the second painting in order to correct that, now, very obvious error -as I saw it.

Again I chose a palette of colours, in many ways very different to the previous choices.  But this time I was going to take a different approach to the hillside and I wanted to create an effect which could be called a sunrise. In the sky,I used a similar blue for an underpainting but used the light raw sienna to produce the effect of a glow from the lower centre of the sky.

The hillside was painted in black / dark browns which became my underpainting (BTW I call it this but it is just an initial layer which allows me to work on somethng other than white - or black in the case of this paper). I then lightly stroked in with reds and reddish browns and with shades of orange to create the feeling and appearance of rocks and undergrowth. In this painting, I must not have fixed the pastel marks properly, before completing the painting. It looks as if the LHS has become smudged. I gues I really should step away from my work now and then whilst it is in progress. I do get carried away!

But on the whole, I am quite satisfied with both paintings and think that I have learnt some valuable lessons.

I will include the next two in the series without actually saying much about them. In the next, I used many more colours in the foreground otherwise, I used lessons learnt from the first two paintings.

And for the last, a very quick (20 minutes before having to start clearing up) version of a simmilar scene with shadows on snow.

Although It looks simple, I did wowrk very quickly and the sky was actually painted in several layers. The snow needed to be toned down from the white of the paper and I chose a very light green-blue, you can juat see the texture in the on-screen image.

Because I did use several layers for the sky and found time to take a couple of photographs, I will be discussing my technique further in the next post - see you then?

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