The last day of the year and the last painting. The weather is cold and yesterday the sun was shining from early morning burning away the woodland mist. Although the days are lengthening, by just a few seconds at the moment, the promise of spring is definitely here.
I was interested in depicting the effect of the low sun filtering through the undergrowth. I was trying not to produce a ‘photographic’ like image. The prevalence of such scenes in photography has conditioned the way we expect to see it. Even with the modern HDR (High Dynamic Range) cameras the scene will tend to be in silhouette with lens flare and other ‘limitations’ of photography becoming the way we think we see.
The sparkling pinpoints of light were placed with the edge of a knife. Firstly as vertical lines and then overpainted with horizontal lines. This produced a pattern of ‘+’ shapes where the light was breaking through. Impossible to do with a brush, regardless of how small the point.
The colours are Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue and Titanium White. There is no black used. A little Liquin was used as I have found this smoothes the flat areas, like the sky, on this rough textured canvas.
The picture size is 16″ x 12″ and took about 2 hours to complete in a single session. Here is the video of the painting process. See you next year 🙂
I have a page for beginners concerning the painting of skies (see tab above). Its a few years since I recorded this video and my method and materials have changed a little since then. Here is the real time video of the painting of this sky.
The principal differences between then and now are:
I’m now using Alkyd Quick Drying Oil Colours.
I use Liquin to slow down the drying, as opposed to using it to speed up drying as with standard oils.
I’m not using black at all.
I can put a layer of ‘the wrong colour’ underneath because the Alkyd paint begins to set quickly. The mixing is thus restricted and less inclined to over-influence the later layers. An example was putting a layer of Burnt Umber under the grey of the clouds. This cloud colour already contained Burnt Umber in the mix but the layer of raw colour underneath is not completely obliterated so an interesting effect is produced.
The technique of blending the colours is the same as in the previous method. This is where a flat brush is quickly, but lightly, drawn across the entire surface, systematically from one side to the other. Vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The initial, almost haphazard, placing of colour is to introduce a randomness in cloud shapes. The blending knits the colours together creating a softness consistent with the sky effect. It requires practice and courage to swipe your brush across the surface in this, apparently reckless, manner. But it does produce great skies.
The video is in real time which gives a better understanding of this blending of colours. Notice the two dippers attached to the palette. The upper one contains a very dilute Liquin and White Spirits (solvent) solution. The lower one is White Spirits only. I use a pipette to add precise amounts of these liquids to the mixes. I rarely ‘dip’ the brush into the dippers because its difficult to get a precise amount and it also creates a mess.
The time-lapse version of the full painting is here.