Long story short.
Between my last posting and now the following has happened: I broke my varifocals, Christmas, new year and I take deliveryof my new specs. The result of all this is that I had to complete " Peter's Pool" while wearing my "readers" and negotiating my way through festivities and a two week break. I am, I am pleased to say,happy with the end result.
This “Deep Shadow” stage is still very much preparation and is therefore a bit rough and ready. Don’t worry about this layer too much. It is at the next layer when the fun really starts and your genius starts to make itself evident.
A few more important words about colour. I shall be referring to colours by the names of the objects they depict eg. The colour of the pine trees I will refer to as “pine tree” colour and not just green and so on. The green you choose for your pine trees is your choice and it is choice that has driven artists to their destruction. I can only tell you what I have chosen and why. Pine tree needles are dark and oily so they reflect a vast amount of light. I am choosing straight Sap green because it is pretty close and also it saves a lot of hassle. Later we are going to put on reflection colours so hang in there and all will become clear.
This layer is all in deep shadow and detail is not important. It is like seeing the scene at night.
Mix piles of shadow colour, atmosphere colour of pine tree colour. Tip: Always add colours to white when using white and not the other way around as you will end up with a huge pile of paint that will be wasted. I am going to start on the trees furthest away ie. top left and work down.
Mix a pile of pine tree colour and shadow colour(about 50/50) into a large pile of atmosphere (20/80) and use a small, flat brush. A size three is what I am using. A student grade synthetic brush is cheap and very effective and you can normally buy them is packs of 5 or 6 for about 3 or 4 quid. Now with short downward strokes I start adding paint to my canvas. As you work down and across remember that the closer the trees are the less atmosphere needed so keep adding pine tree colour as you work down. You decide on how much and on how often. To do the background forest in this painting I used about 6 tones. That is to say I added pine tree colour/shadow colour, very small amounts at a time, 6 times. (Duh).
Using the image I am painting as a guide and using this technique work all the way down to the bottom. For the trees in the foreground I used a larger round brush. You can design your own colours here. I am lucky as I need only look out of my window to see the forest and the trees. You will have to use the photo as a guide. For the water I used pine tree colour and by the time I got to the bottom I was using neat colour without atmosphere.
Tip: Don’t worry about the colours and detail too much for this layer as, again most of it is going to covered. Concentrate on the addition of atmosphere colour as you will be doing this all the way through the painting. Use thin paint and stay loose. This layer took me about an hour. If you need clarification on any details don’t hesitate to contact me and will get straight back to you. Have fun.
Now, using a no. 8 hog hair brush and thin paint start colouring in the sketch. I started at the top left. This area of the forest is three miles from Peters Pool (my mate lives there) so I used a large pile of "atmosphere" into which I added about half the amount of "shadow". As I worked forward down the painting I added appropriate amounts of shadow to the atmosphere until I got to the bottom by which time I was using pure shadow. I used a touch of orange to paint the tree in the middle and sap green for the grass in the centre. Work fast and loose and don't worry because most of what has been done will be covered up. The whole process took me about 20 minutes. Now I can compare my work with the real thing and decide on matters like composition etc.
Now we come to the nitty gritty of any painting. Colour. It is the illusiveness of colour that separates the Masters from the rest of us mere mortals.
Atmosphere: In my very humble opinion it is the colour of the “atmosphere” that makes or breaks a good painting. So, what is atmosphere? Water vapour, dust, pollution, smoke, pollen and many more elements go to make up the atmosphere and the closer to the ground, the denser the atmosphere is. It is therefore obvious that further away from you the object you are painting is, the more atmosphere you should add. This is very, very important. For this painting I have chosen the following recipe: Into a large pile of white I mix a small amount of Cerulean blue (about 5% that of the white) and a touch of Burnt Umber (about 2%). This makes a very clean atmosphere and it is this that makes Scotland so popular amongst most artists. You must always have a pile of “atmosphere” colour on your palette board when working on a particular painting.
Shadow: Shadows are cool spots and for this reason we are using blue in this painting. The recipe is equal amounts of Cerulean Blue and Burnt Umber. No white. This shadow colour must, as with atmosphere, always be on hand to dip into when needed.
Light: Large white into which you mix a tiny amount of Alizeran crimson (1%) and an equally tiny amount of Indian yellow. This too must be available at every session.
So to recap: “Atmosphere” colour, “shadow” colour and “light” colour must always be on your board ready for action. You can experiment with these elements but the colours I have chosen for my basics are proven and a good base to learn from. Again, Good luck.