I was in the woods again on Saturday. It was bitterly cold despite the sunshine. I had my camera with me this time and took a few photos. This scene I photographed and I have included the photo here to show the translation from photo to painting. The 2 evergreen trees were the centre of my interest, but the trackway disappearing into the distance and providing an exit from the scene was where I placed the centre of interest in the painting. The sky was a boring gradient of blue. I created a ‘Constable’ sky. Not so much the Constable of the ‘finished’ paintings like The Hay Wain, but the oil sketches he completed before he started to paint the official version for the Royal Academy. These sketches were painted quickly and are very like the later Impressionist paintings.
The painting is a compression of the scene, the distance and the foreground are brought closer together. The large shadow in the foreground had to be ‘explained’ in the painting by creating the edge of a tree which would have created this shadow. To help create a ‘raw’ feeling to the scene I used a knife to scratch sharp suggested details especially in the leafless Ash trees. This scratching effect then had to be carried to other areas of the painting for uniformity of texture (click on the painting to see the ‘scratch’ marks of the knife). To help carry the eye into the distance and follow the track, I changed the shape of the evergreen trees. Their right hand side form a line which points towards the end point of the trackway. Also, the trees on the extreme left, point towards this end point, connecting foreground and distance.
The colours used are: Burnt Umber & Burnt Sienna (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and Cobalt Blue. Also used are Sap Green, black and white. Sap Green has a distinctive colour, so in the interests of colour harmony I included it in the sky colours. The Cobalt Blue and white mix, for the blue of the sky, has a definite ‘Sap Green’ tinge about it. I find greens from the ‘tube’ to be a bit unnatural. Small amounts of red added to these greens helps a little. I made the red end of the mixes a little stronger by the inclusion of Burnt Umber instead of my usual Raw Umber.
The painting took about an hour and a half to complete. I will have a video of the process for the next post. See you then.