Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Watercolor Demo Class: Landscape "Batchellor's Forest"

For one of the groups that meets in my Watercolor Demonstration Class, I painted a landscape from right next to my house.  We have a country road that runs along our property called Batchellor's Forest Road, and it is the route taken by school buses to the local middle school.  I love to walk along this road and take in the Maryland countryside and some of the beautiful oak trees.  Here is the reference photo, from a misty fall morning:
Again, I made some decisions before starting:
  • that the painting would be loose and not an exact representation of the photo
  • that I would try to capture the misty feeling and light at the end of the road
  • that I would eliminate the very straight tree trunk on the right (it looks like a telephone pole!)
  • that I would add a school bus down the street coming toward us, with its stop sign out and some children waiting to board
  • that I would film the painting process with my webcam 
Step 1.  Working on a half sheet of Arches 140 lb cold press stretched on a Homasote board, I started on dry paper by suggesting some of the light background colors that exist behind the big tree.  I splattered water on the wet paint to encourage backruns and textures to form, and I spattered with some cerulean blue.

Step 2.  After it was dry, I decided to re-wet and add more mist up in the trees in the form of ultramarine violet--I wanted the feeling of light at the end of the street to be stronger by virtue of the contrast.  I also did more spattering while this was wet.

Step 3.  Working from light to dark in this picture, I added an evergreen tree that will be behind the big oak tree.  I tried to make the leaves interesting.  Also I began to add some of the tree branches and trunks on the right.  The way to capture the feeling of mist is to make the objects progressively darker as they come closer to you.  Things in the foreground, such as the large oak tree will be the darkest.

Step 4.  I continued painting lighter trees in the background.  When they were dry I started to paint the large oak.  Each type of tree has its own unique skeleton, and oaks are always very contorted.  Many of the other trees here are beech trees, and they have elegant, straighter limbs that bow gently in the wind.  I hope I am capturing the feeling of mist here, but probably need to accentuate it more.  This painting is not finished yet and this is as far as I have gotten so far.  Sorry!
To finish:  I plan to add a small trunk and limbs to the red tree on the right.  Also I will add that school bus near the middle telephone pole.  I will purposely put it farther down the street and make it not too bright, to add to the feeling of morning mist.  When you add figures or objects to a landscape that are not already there, you need to be very careful to size them correctly for their position in the perspective of the scene.  I hope to add a picture of the finished painting to this article as soon as possible!

Susan Murphy, ARThouse, 5/6/14

1 comment:

  1. This is charming and I love your ideas of adding the bus with children - can't wait to see it finished!!! Teachers and Moms who making "coming home" a treat....are gonna love this!!