Watercolor Week 2 – Snow Demo
In this weeks class we started the snow project. If you are using your own show picture you will have to adjust what I do in my demo to your subject but the basics of painting snow are all the same, we all need to start out with a reasonable drawing on our paper. While you don't need to draw every stick in the pictures, you do need to have a good enough drawing to know where you are going with it and also so you know where you will need to put your masking fluid. When you are painting something that will have a lot of white or tiny detail it is always a good idea to have masking fluid handy.
When you are drawing your guide lines onto your paper remember, you are not obligated to draw it exactly as you see it. More often than not, when you are working from a photo or even in real life (plein aire), things aren't always either in the best position of are the right size of there is something that just doesn't help your composition, as an artist you are the ultimate PhotoShop! You can move mountains if you have to in order to make a more pleasing painting. The photos I am working from are good examples, the photographer had to take the picture before the snow melted or got all messed up even though the lighting wasn't the best and it may have been hard to get into the best position to take the picture because of the snow but she took the photo and now as artists we can move things into positions where they will work for us and not against us. We can assign importance to things or move them to a supporting role, we, as artists, have a lot of power over that piece of paper.
Aside from alight source which is virtually non-existent in the photos, the main trees are rather small and in a fairly straight line which is visually rather stagnant. When I drew my trees, I mad them a bit lager then they were in the photo and put them on a slight angle, this gives them more importance in the picture and it gives the whole painting a much better eye flow we want to keep our viewers in our paintings so we need to make them interesting.
I also had to make a decision on where the sun is coming from so I choose the upper right side a bit behind the trees. This way I will know where my shadows and highlights will be.
The yellow you see is the masking fluid.
Once I had my drawing the way I liked it, I got out my masking fluid and painted a few areas where I think the sun will be the brightest, I need to mask them so I don't have to worry about painting around them because I will forget. I put the masking on the sunny side of the trees and the snow around their bases and also in where the bushes and brambles of the undergrowth are in the middle ground trees. The masking has to dry before you can proceed. A word of caution: You can use a hair dryer on the masking fluid ONLY IF is has a NO HEAT setting. If you use heat you run the risk of melting it into your paper, then you are in a world of hurt when you go to peel it off.
Another thing I will mention is I am using a very limited palette. What that means is I am only using a few colors, they are:
I started in the sky area, you may want to paint with just water to wet the area first so your paint will spread easily, on my palette I mixed blue with a little touch of sienna and lots of water to create a blue/gray color and painted it into the sky, it should be pretty light. Paint the sky all the way across the page don't worry about painting over the trees they aren't white anyway so will eventually get painted.
While the sky is still a little damp (the shine should be off the paper), into that same color on your palette, add a little more blue and sienna to slightly darken the color and right along the horizon into the wet area, make some tree shapes to suggest the very distant trees. The color may start to "bloom" into the wet sky but that is okay, it is why I said to add it to the damp sky so the shapes will soften and look more distant. Let this dry.
Watercolor can be a waiting game and you can't rush it too much. Yes you can use a hair dryer, just remember to use the cool setting because of the masking fluid but if you paint near a wet area you can get blooms where you really don't want them.
Next, in that same color you've been working in, add more blue and sienna, you want a darker gray for the middle ground trees though this is really for all the small branches and leaves and things at the tops of the trees also for the undergrowth. This time you will need to paint around the foreground trees using negative painting. If you get color where you don't want it, rinse your brush and dry it slightly and "lift" out the color. I had to do that several times myself. Just paint shapes that look like the tops of the trees. This color should be a couple shades darker than the distant trees so it stands out from the background.
You can also use this color to suggest some of the shadows and the terrain the key here is to work wet on dry by putting the color down, then rinsing your brush and with just water go on either side of the color you just put down and soften the edges. Places where this is important is where the middle trees end, there is a slight depression between the background hill and the foreground area, also around the foreground trees.
For the foreground trees I just added water to my gray on the palette so it was very pale and just painted the entire tree and branches. This is where I left off. We may get finished next week, I will have to see how the class is going. Start looking for something you would like to paint, I will do demos that I hope will help you with your own projects.
See you in class.