Cottonwood: #1

I wanted to paint something from my imagination tonight, and tried to focus on neutralized colors. One thing my paintings suffer from (among others) is that they often make use of very high key colors, and often don’t have much color harmony as a result. So I decided to make a painting using just three colors again, and this time went with Prussian blue, Quin purple, and yellow ochre. I choose these because I know I have a tendency to get very muddy with yellow ochre, and I wanted some practice being more disciplined with it. I’m fairly pleased with the results I got.

I didn’t take photos as I went because I was just kind of shooting from the hip. This was more of an exercise than anything, but I think it turned out OK.

I just finished typing up a long step by step on how I painted this and just about bored myself to sleep. So I deleted it all. Basically, I laid down a lot of washes one after the other. I used a napkin to lift the clouds, and a brush to lift the pond, and tree trunk. The leaves were painted fairly carefully, I focused more on leaves than branches.

I wanted to end up with a tree like the ones I see out in farm country, the kind that looks bedraggled and wind swept, like it’s been standing in this field all alone for ages just trying to not fall over. I also wanted to paint a lot of shaggy brush at the base to make it feel less manicured. Basically, I wanted it to look organic.

If I do this again, and I’m not sure that I will, I would reduce the height of the trees in the background, and try to make the pond thinner. I like the brush work in the grass, so I think I’ll explore more of that in the future.

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