Two days ago, I wanted to Practice painting clouds. I painted this:
I liked it in general, but felt like the bottoms of the clouds got over worked. So I tried again.
I like this one more than the first, and decided to try to paint clouds again, with a more definite focus on the structure and gesture of the clouds.
After painting the sky, and lifting clouds with some paper towel, I changed my mind, and left the sky simplified like that. Then, I started doing in a tree, and before I knew it, I had painted this:
I was very happy with it when it was finished, and decided to try it again, but larger. So, I grabbed a full sheet, and I painted this:
I decided to stop painting this one after I overworked the tree. I learned a few things:
1) I can paint the branches dark at the top of the tree, and slide that same value to the outside of the tree near the ground. If I do that successfully, I’ll go from painting the branches, to negatively painting the trunk. I wasn’t successful with that here, but I saw it work in a few spots.
2) I’m trying this on full sheets of paper, because I’m always intimidated by painting on full sheets. I felt like the best way to get over that would be to just do it.
3) I am painting this at nearly a 90 degree angle, because I want to experiment with painting standing up. I really like the impact that standing has – I find it easier to stand back and see the painting fresh again.
4) Because it’s at 90 degrees, I have to be more mindful of the water content on my brush, too much and it drips all the way down.
5) If I wet the whole sheet with clean water a few times so it’s really saturated, then wait a few minutes for it to absorb fully into the paper, I get smoother washes. It’s hard to get flat washes on a large scale, even with my number 20 brush. Saturating the paper first helps a lot.
So I tried again, on another full sheet.
I got a smoother wash in the sky this time, and got those really crisp cloud highlights by painting negatively around it.
I tried knifing in some grasses and branches beneath the tree, and it just got muddy. Again, this is something I saw working well, and I have seen it done well in paintings by Joseph Alleman. (I’m working on studying some of his paintings right now, I’ll post about that later.) But I’m order for it to work, you need confidence. You can only scrape the paper one time, maybe two times – but you can’t fiddle around with it. I fiddled with it here, and figured I would try again.
Here’s the last attempt:
I am really pleased with the results I got here. I tried very hard to trust myself, and not cover up the first washes. Instead, I painted a rough light-valued layer with a lot of wet in wet soft edges. Then I added another layer, more carefully rendered, and with slightly darker values. I kept going, each time adding darker values and painting more carefully until I had this result. I am proud of this one – I think it’s quite good.
I would like to try to cool off the trees in the near distance, but I am afraid that will make mud-so I will leave them alone.