Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sand and Shore

This week's in-class painting is a simple waterfront scene derived from photos taken on my morning dog-walk, with the waves rolling in from Lake Ontario and a single file of ducks strolling up the beach ahead of us. At 8 x 10 this was doable in two hours, with not much sketching required at all.
I made only a few pencil lines before painting, roughing in the ducks and their reflections as 4 separate ovals . The glistening sand colours are faint enough that masking fluid was not needed to save the bands of white in the ducks' plummage.
I began with an overall wash of clear water to prepare the paper for three separate bands of texture, to be painted wet-in-wet for softly blurred edges: Neutral Tint was mixed with Burnt Sienna for the near sand, Antwerp Blue defined the glistening wet sand, and Neutral Tint shaped the waves. Once the background was quite dry I shaped the ducks and their reflections, taking time to build up the dark colours in layers.
To get increasingly darker colours one must load the brush with less water in ratio to more pigment, almost dry-brush in the final strokes. All this building up requires some drying time between layers, which is when one goes back to other elements that also need touching up - textures in the nearest sand, more shaping in the far waves. These layers and touch-ups take time but also heighten the realism of the final picture, a nice way to remember a walk on the beach.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Welcome 2012

This snowy scene with birch trees took just a few hours. The white tree trunks and branches were masked with Pebeo Drawing Gum, which was allowed to dry before I began painting the sky. After pre-wetting the sky area with a clear wash I used Cobalt Blue in sweeping diagonal strokes, leaving the clouds as negative space. While the resulting sky was drying I worked on the snow first with Cerulean Blue then with a bit of Winsor Violet and Neutral Tint. Back to the horizon with Neutral Tint, I shaped the far-away trees, letting them advance and get darker in the woods on the right. The final step was to remove the masking fluid and get to work on the birch trunks and branches, which is where the more fiddly time-consuming work comes in! I try to make these in-class paintings do-able in the time available.

Pebeo Drawing Gum is my preferred masking fluid and the one that I recommend to students. The blue tint keeps the mask clearly visible while you are painting, it stays put until you want to peel it off and then it lifts off readily without damaging the paper.