I tried to paint that picture i have in my head of the Ravine where we used to play as kids. It seems each time I paint this, I get farther from the image in my mind.
To start, I sketched this composition in pencil, following a neat little trick I learned in Ron Hazel’s book. He mentioned that when sketching in pencil, start by using the pencil to color everything that will be at value 2 or higher (value 1 being the white paper). Then, go back over those areas that will be values 3-5, again (darker still) for values 4-5, and finish with a heavy hand on those areas that will get a value 5. This helps identify how the layers of watercolor should be applied, since we work from dark to light in water color. I like the way this helped me learn more about the values as I created the sketch. In the past, value sketches have seemed like a bit of a waste of time, but this strategy tells me not only where the values should be when I paint it, they also help me strategize how I’ll paint it. I will be doing more of this for sure.
As I painted this, things started getting out of hand. My Value 2 washes were fine. Then, I added value three washes, but these were much too high of a value when I applied them. As a result, I didn’t have much room for contrast between value 3-5. I need to make sure in the future to keep each value wash roughly the same in value – that way, they layers will stack on top of one another, instead of trying to shout out the layer beneath.
Because I had already messed up, I decided to try something I hadn’t tried yet, and really load the pigment on the page. (You can see this in the orange dirt on the right.) When I started applying my value 5 washes, I decided to get the pigments thick like butter and spread them on like they were egg tempera. I actually like how this worked on the dirt there, but you can see how horribly muddy things can get in the hill on the left.
I need to go back and keep adding more of the value 5 areas, but honestly I’m not sure I will. I don’t like where this is headed. If anything, I might return to it later to play with the really thick pigment idea, but that would be the only thing to get me back to this painting. For now, I’ll leave this beaten horse alone.