Dang. These are hard.

Number 10:

I didn’t bother to go back in and paint the flowers on this one because I knew it wasn’t going to be a finished version.

I like the way the water is rendered in this one, but like all the others, the lily pads here are quite dark. I want to explore finding ways to brighten them up, but keep that strong value change in the water surface.

I tried going into the sky with some clean water to get some blooms there to suggest clouds. I like the movement that adds without drawing the eye too much.

The trees on the horizon were painted into a very wet sky. I like the soft edges, but I think I need to wait a about twenty seconds longer before I paint them.

I painted the reflections by dragging a clean wet brush across the bottom of the freshly painted trees. I was too careful at first, and obliterated any white of the page at the horizon. That glisten is really important to make it look like the sun is glistening across the surface of the lake, so I need to do that with a faster, more confident stroke next time.

The trees on the peninsula were painted wet-in-wet, and I used a spray bottle to soften any edges. I like the texture this created, but the trees are too soft, it’s a blob of vegetation instead of a distant mass of trees. (Is there a difference between those two?)

The lily pads themselves feel much too dark, and muddy. I think this is a combination of errors: first, I painted the water too darkly. Second, I didn’t use enough water to paint the lily pads. The biggest thing I need to do is lighten up the water I think, but it’s tough because I don’t want to lose that value contrast between the horizon and the foreground.

Number 11:

I tried a few different things on number 11. First, I simplified the sky. I was worried that the clouds added a bit too much action, which flattened the painting in number 10. I like how far back the sky feels here, but I do miss the action in the sky. I think I’ll go back to how I did it in number 10 when I go to paint number 12.

I fixed the issue with the trees on the horizon by waiting a bit longer, and it looks like that’s the way to go.

The water was rendered by painting a flat wash that went from clean water through UM Blue to a near purple at the bottom. Then, I went back into the water to make ripples. I like the idea of this, but I didn’t execute the rippled water as well as I would have liked. I’ll try to fix that in number 12.

When I drove out to the reservoir the other day, was keeping an eye on the trees around me, thinking about my experiment with emphasizing perspective in the foliage from number 8 (here) and I noticed that this is the wrong idea.

Painting number 8 doesn’t do a good job of showcasing what I mean, here’s what the sketch of what that one looked like before I painted, you can see what I was trying to think about when I painted it.

It amazing how much number 8 turned out to not look like the sketch at all.

When I looked at the trees on the side of the road, I saw a dark, neutral green toward the bottom that escalated rather abruptly to a vibrant green at the top. Even though I was looking at the foliage from dozens of trees, they all read like a single shape. That’s something I wanted to aim for here.

I also didn’t like how the peninsula just faded into the background in number 10, because it didn’t give the painting any mid-ground. In order to divorce the peninsula from the background, I decided I would need some hard edges on the peninsula.

So, I used masking fluid to block off some trunk shapes, and painted with my “scary brush” (as Ray Hendershot calls it) to dapple vegetation into the trees. After that dried, I removed the masking fluid, and then masked off more trunks (applying the masking fluid over parts that I had painted, and some of the white trunks that had been masked off previously) and dappled in more pigment. I rendered far fewer leaves this time, and chose a darker valued pigment for the second layer. Then when that dried I removed the masking fluid again, and added some thin lines to reinforce the branches.

I like the result. It definitely feels divorced from the background, and reads as a tangle of vegetation. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s now so far from the background that it takes focus. I think next time I’ll try the same technique, but I’ll use a softer wet-in wet for the first layer.

I liked the lily pads in the foreground on number 10, but felt that the ones in the foreground should have been halfway between the peninsula and the foreground. This time, I tried to accomplish that by painting lines of green at the horizon, and then individual brush strokes in the middle all the way to the bottom of the painting. Then, I went back into the bottom of the painting with some light valued green to soften things in the foreground. I think this is the right idea, but I need fewer lily pads in the foreground, and they should be even softer.

Plan for Number 12:

This brings me to number 12. I have a few more experiments to run before I will feel like I have a good “recipe” for this painting.

I’ll want to try to replicate the sky from 10, and the trees from 12, but add a layer of soft edges on the peninsula like I said.

When I paint the water, I want to see what happens if I go from clean water through turquoise and into green, instead of going through blue to end at purple. I think that will help lighten things up considerably. I’ll also try painting a mix of green and purple beneath the peninsula instead of just purples for the reflection. I need the reflection of the peninsula to be dark in order to emphasize the glare of the water on the right, but if I go too dark too quickly, the lily pads get lost.

I also want to experiment with masking off some lily pads as well as flowers in the water between the peninsula and the bottom of the painting.

Lastly, I think I prefer the stillness of the water in 10, but I don’t know if that’s just because I didn’t execute the ripples as I wanted in number 11. I’ll have to try to more effectively render ripples in the water in number 12 before I really make a decision on that.