Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Birches in Nova Scotia - Painting an Oil Landscape

On the easel today is a canvas just waiting for a scene from Nova Scotia to be finished.

I'm looking for a peaceful scene that invokes the feeling of crisp clear air, the scent of the sea, mountains in the distance and flowers wildly blooming in the foreground. And birch trees.

I've already started with a muted sky, a bit of yellow at the horizon and the hazy look of blue mountains. I don't really have to leave white space for the trees. I could wait for all this to dry and then paint over it, but I don't think I can wait!

Let's see how the painting progresses from start to finish. Pictures can be clicked to see them larger...
First I add more to the background. You can see a bit of green at the base of the mountains and the beginning of a water body. Then, while the background is still wet, I paint in some base colors for the trees.


More background work. This is a strip of land that divides the water...


After adding more water in front of the land strip, this is how everything looks. You can see I've added reflections, always important with water, and some brush strokes to indicate gentle waves...


This part is fun! Adding colorful flowers and foliage to the foreground with a flat brush. I get a bit crazy here with texture...



Once the foreground is complete, it's time to add some details to the trees. Because I was working on commissions during this time, this painting was put aside and the paints had time to dry which was perfect!
Birches have dark markings along their white bark called lenticels. They help the bark draw in oxygen from the air...


To help the markings look more real from a distance, I paint a lighter color over them. This gives them dimension...


A few more details for the bark are needed. In this case, I found my small flat brush left four streaked lines when I pulled it horizontally across the canvas. This was just what I wanted! I love it when things like that happen...


When all the  birch details are done, the painting is finished...


Hope you enjoyed the demo!
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2 comments:

Jewel said...

I enjoyed seeing hoe the painting took shape. I am starting a painting with birches soon so will try to remember your technique.

Janet Zeh said...

Great Jewel! Have fun with your birches painting. :)