In my last post on this blog, I talked about a painter, Paul Bailey whose work I had come across on Facebook, I was inspired by some of his watercolours, and wanted to know if I could get the same sort of feel using soft pastels. The theme which particularly captured my attention was of trees on a hillside, sillouetted against a sky. Now, if you have been reading this blog, you will know I have used this theme a number of times previously but they were very different in their feel to those of this artist. For the last two weeks I have been experimenting at my weekly art group sessions to try and replicate the watercolours in artists' pastels.
I am not sure if I succeeded in my original aim but I am very pleased with the results and hope that you will enjoy them as well.
This painting was the first, I had given a little thought to the trees, mostly with respect to the colours I would use to obtain the sense of recession. But most of my attention was on how I would achieve the textures and intense colour which I wanted in the foreground.
I selected a palette of colours, I always tend to take the main colours out of my box and line them up ready for use. This saves scrabbling about searching for the next / right colour that I want to use and helps me to keep up a momentum once I start painting. No time to lose that inspiration!
I had decided that I would create a sloping hillside with a "valley" running through the centre and used a bright red colour (more than one in fact) to paint diagonal slopes to the nearest hillside. I used the sides of the pastel sticks with a light pressure to create a textured appearance on the black art paper. The further slopes were similarly painted with a less intense red and with the introduction of a purple colour, to give a feel of recession again. The dark blues used in the lower corners, I must admit, were a reflection of the reference painting that I was using and seemed to me to help contain the picture within the paper.
The sky was also very similar to the reference. A very light raw sienna along the hill tops gave the impression of a sunset (another favourite subject of mine). A light blue was used for the bulk of the sky with two (yes I know it should have been one or three) large massses to represent clouds.
I drew the trees still thinking about that recession I wanted to show, and did not realise until I had finished just how rigid and wooden (no pun intended) they were. I immediately started to think about the second painting in order to correct that, now, very obvious error -as I saw it.
Again I chose a palette of colours, in many ways very different to the previous choices. But this time I was going to take a different approach to the hillside and I wanted to create an effect which could be called a sunrise. In the sky,I used a similar blue for an underpainting but used the light raw sienna to produce the effect of a glow from the lower centre of the sky.
The hillside was painted in black / dark browns which became my underpainting (BTW I call it this but it is just an initial layer which allows me to work on somethng other than white - or black in the case of this paper). I then lightly stroked in with reds and reddish browns and with shades of orange to create the feeling and appearance of rocks and undergrowth. In this painting, I must not have fixed the pastel marks properly, before completing the painting. It looks as if the LHS has become smudged. I gues I really should step away from my work now and then whilst it is in progress. I do get carried away!
But on the whole, I am quite satisfied with both paintings and think that I have learnt some valuable lessons.
I will include the next two in the series without actually saying much about them. In the next, I used many more colours in the foreground otherwise, I used lessons learnt from the first two paintings.
And for the last, a very quick (20 minutes before having to start clearing up) version of a simmilar scene with shadows on snow.
Although It looks simple, I did wowrk very quickly and the sky was actually painted in several layers. The snow needed to be toned down from the white of the paper and I chose a very light green-blue, you can juat see the texture in the on-screen image.
Because I did use several layers for the sky and found time to take a couple of photographs, I will be discussing my technique further in the next post - see you then?