Watercolor Project: Cozy Cottage Week 5
Torrance class we have not gotten this far yet we will be going over this in our next class so do not worry if you don't have your painting this far along. You did miss a week.
By this time you should have all of the background with the cottage, the pine trees, the reflection, and in the foreground: the plants around the road and the fence post all in because we are finally getting to the bush on the left hand side.
If your drawing for the bush has faded with the layers of water that you've been putting on your painting, you might want to sketch it back in because this area is a bit confusing. If you can't see what you're doing even if you just put in where the branches are going to be then you will know where your snow is going to be, and if you know where your snow is, the leaves and the berries will follow. Get out your reference photos to sketch them back in.
Not much of the branches show but some of them do to paint them I used a mix burnt sienna with a little blue and a little touch of orange. I just painted them in some places to suggest that there were branches and twigs holding up the snow and leaves, you don't paint the whole thing because most will be hidden behind leaves and snow but you need them there to show what is holding things up, this is why you need to have not only your drawing so that you understand what you will be painting, but also your reference material in front of you so that you know exactly where you are going.
Once I had my branches in I painted the snow in first. I mixed a medium blue which will be darker than most of the other shadows we have been painting but this is what you need to create the shadowed side of this bush. This color was mostly ultramarine blue, with a little touch of purple to turn it a plum color and a very tiny, little bit of burnt sienna to slightly grey the color. If it goes completely gray or if it looks too warm you have added either too much burnt sienna or purple this needs to look blue.
I am putting the snow on before I put in the leaves for the simple reason I do not want my snow to turn green, if you put the leaves in first you will have to very carefully paint around them or run the risk of picking up the dark green as you are painting in the snow. Sort of my rule of thumb: If it is lighter in color it goes down first.
Look at your reference photo before you start, including the actual photo of the holly bush that I used as a reference for this painting. Note how the snow lies on the branches and in the leaves, they are weighted down from the snow so you want a lot of your snow to angle slightly down so as you put the snow on top of these branches. Think about what you're doing: you are putting snow on the branches, think about the shapes, think about the underlying branches and twigs that the snow is sitting on don't just paint blindly, know what you're doing before you start and not get confused while you're in the midst of it. I saw this a lot in class.
Once you have all of the snow under painted you can use that same dark blue/purple to create the shadow that falls across the front of your painting: it comes from underneath the tree that you're painting, goes across the road and up into the fence line. Look at the reference photo. Remember the shadow falls on top of something so it follows the shape of the thing that it falls on so if there are bumps and rises in the snow your shadow also needs to follow those bumps and rises and bring it all the way across the page to the fence and at the outside edges of it break it up like the outside edges of the tree that's casting the shadow so that you will see sun spots in between the shadows.
When the shadow snow on your tree is dry go back in with a slightly darker version of the color you were just using and around the bottom and in between start shaping lumps of snow. Remember there are leaves and branches and berries underneath the snow so it's not going to be a nice smooth, velvety layer of snow, it's going to have bumps and dips and you need to show that by putting in some shadow shapes. We will come back later and lift out a few highlights but try to get in the shadows just like you've been painting shadows throughout this painting the darkest is going to be near the bottom and lightens up towards the, look at the reference photo of both the finished piece and the original photograph.
While this new layer is drying on you tree you can put in some grasses in the road and by the fence if you want to, it will require you to get out your liner brush so practice with it first, it’s just little circular motions with your liner brush use any of the browns that you've been using for the fence and for the house. This is dead grass so it's not going to be a bright green and make them long and short, make them bent over, put a few on the sides of your painting, put a few down the center of the roadway and near the bushes… don't get too carried away with this just put enough in that it looks like they have survived the storm and are standing tall. You can also go back in with your liner brush and you can pull little shadows off from the bottom again remember that the snow is lumpy and bumpy, these are not straight they may go up then they go down and up, just think about the snow that you're painting them over.
Now we get to the leaves that are in the tree. I wanted to have the snow in first so that I could pull leaves out of the snow as well as keeping the green out of the snow, Look at the original photograph before you start painting, you are painting leaves not dragon teeth, not a solid green line, you are painting leaves. They come in different sizes and shapes, different angles so please look at what your painting, think about what your painting, before you start painting it. The leaves mostly come out from underneath the snow, the snow itself is settled down in between and on top of these leaves, some of the leaves will stick out of the snow so there will be snow surrounding some of the leaves. Again, look at the reference photos before you start painting.
The color I used for the leaves was a very dark green: that was my hooker’s green with ultramarine blue and a little touch of purple and water to lighten if needed. I was using my half inch angle brush and making leaf shapes coming out in all directions, even from inside some of the snow clumps. Don't fill it in completely, leave some spaces between leaves and branches, you want to be able to see the snow behind the tree to give depth to your painting.
The berries were painted with alizarin crimson with a little touch of ultramarine blue in it. The color should still look red but the blue will darken it slightly. Remember the berries - just like the snow and the leaves - are in shadow and they are going to be a cool color so you will need to add a little touch of the ultra-marine blue. Using either a round brush, your liner brush or the tip of a flat or angled brush just put in dots in clumps of dots mostly underneath and in between the leaves and the snow. Look at that reference photo again you will see that most of the berries are hanging down underneath the leaves.
Lastly I came in with an even darker version of the green, if you have some of the green left add a little touch more blue and purple to it and just in a few places like up underneath clumps of snow and in the corners, add some darker leaves. This variation will create more three dimension in your leaves and in the tree.
Basically I am done with this painting. For you to be done, you need to go through and look at it and see where you think it needs to have some more work done. If it needs any more detail, like I said, you can come back in with a damp brush and lift some highlights off the very top of some of the clumps of snow in your tree, it won't look white, and it shouldn't look white, it'll just look like a lighter blue and it will give some dimension to the clumps in your tree. Also you may want to go back through and see where you can add some more shadows into your snow even in the areas that already have shadow there may be some darker areas like in the road ruts but be careful and do not get too carried away with detail and keep any detail closer to the front or middle ground. If you are looking for something to do you are probably done so let it sit for a few days and then look at it again with fresh eyes, if nothing jumps out at you then you're done.
So keep painting and I will see you in class.