Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Autumn Glory II - A Fall River Painting in Watercolor

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will probably recognize this scene. It is inspired by the stony rivers and streams that run through New England and the glorious autumn color that sets the countryside ablaze in fall.

I have painted this scene three times in oil (twice with birch trees) and once prior to this in watercolor. Though the scene is the same, each time the painting is different. The size is one factor, the medium is another. Mostly it is because the way I approach a painting changes.

This particular watercolor is 11x14 and is a companion piece for the Fall Reflections watercolor I did recently. They were both requested as a commission. So let's see how I painted this watercolor!

The first thing I do (after stretching the paper on my board and drawing in a rough outline of the composition) is paint a wash of blue for the sky. I bring the blue below the tree line and continue with a pale blue-gray all the way down the paper to the water's edge. I leave the foreground trees white.

This is to help keep the colors on the far bank less bright than the foreground  colors. While I'm at it, I paint the rocks in the stream the same color:

Once that is dry, I mix blue and yellow colors to make the deep green of evergreens:

Now for the trees on the far side of the stream. Cadmium yellow, Cadmium red and ultramarine blue make the autumn colors here. I like painting wet-into-wet at this stage letting the colors run together without worrying about details:

When the tree colors are dry, I add a few details and shading, Then I paint the grass bank in front of the trees also letting the colors run together. You can see that the far end of the grass bank is a cooler color than the near end. This is to create the illusion of depth. Cool colors recede; warm colors come forward:

Normally, I would proceed to paint the stream next, but since I'm painting trees, I am eager to do the foreground trees as well. They are brighter than the far trees and warmer in tone:

After getting the base colors painted for the trees, I have fun painting loose, bright color for the foreground grass. Wow, this looks colorful! It is because the paint is still wet. It will tone down once it dries and I paint some details in.

Rocks are next. I mix a medium gray with red, blue and yellow. Then while it is wet, darker shades and colors are painted in:

All that is left now is to paint the stream:

To paint the stream, I mirror the colors of the trees on the far bank since they are reflected in the water. Some of the stream is left a light color to denote the movement of water bubbling over the rocks:

After stepping back to check the painting and then adjusting the light and dark values in some areas, adding some detail in others, and of course, signing it, the painting is finished!

 Something about this scene makes me want to be there. How about you?

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