How Do I Handle Summer Greens in Aspen Foliage?

How Do I Handle Summer Greens in Aspen Foliage?

Plein Air Oil
“Summer’s Promise”                                                   Plein Air Oil

Since greens are “in” now, I thought I’d discuss a little about them, since everyone seems to have trouble with them. Aspen trees have cooler green foliage than most other trees, so I usually mix greens using a cool blue like cerulean blue with any yellow (usually a cool one) plus a TOUCH of cool red (this always grays the green just slightly to make the green more believable and natural). Notice the dark greens in the foliage “weave” through in a sideways S shape from the right of the largest aspen up to the top of the second largest aspen. This keeps the darks connected in a good shape and they don’t appear spotty. You can add other darks here and there, but always have a large, connected shape first. Click on the image to enlarge it.

When adding lighter green foliage in oil, be sure not to add too much white to it. You can afford to warm it up with more yellow at this point (I use cadmium lemon or Winsor Lemon) instead of adding too much white and making the paint chalky.
When adding lighter green foliage in oil, be sure not to add too much white to it. You can afford to warm it up with more yellow at this point (I use cadmium lemon or Winsor Lemon) because it is sunlit instead of adding too much white and making the paint chalky.

If you are painting in watercolor, the same advice holds and, of course, you would also use more water to lighten the sunlit parts of the foliage. My next blog will cover greens in watercolor.

I’m teaching a three-day intermediate oil workshop at Artists’ Showplace Gallery in Dallas, TX, on January 24-26, 2017, “Back to Basics – the roots of successful painting and how to infuse light into your landscapes.” We will cover lots of light and atmospheric effects to add to your work, which I think are very important aspects of having a painting “stand out from the crowd.” The cost is $285 for the three days and see my web site under “Exhibits and Events” for more information: www.cecyturner.com or go to Artists’ Showplace web site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, and stay tuned for the next post about handling these darn summer greens in watercolor!

How Do I Handle Shadows on Snow from Backlit Aspens?

10x8" Oil on Linen Panel Plein Air
10×8″ Oil on Linen Panel
Plein Air

Adding shadows in snow can be a problem because many people tend to paint them too dark and there is too much of a contrast with the white snow. A lot of times in photographs shadows come out much too blue, dark and vivid. Mostly, this is the camera’s fault, so we really need to observe when we are out there (brrr…) and see how much light is really in the shadows.

Be sure to soften your shadows with your finger, a brush or a Q Tip if you're painting in oil, or with a brush and clean water if you're painting in watercolor. This will help them "fit in" better with the snow and they won't look like hard-edged snakes coming toward you!
Be sure to soften your shadows with your finger, a brush or a Q Tip if you’re painting in oil, or with a brush and clean water if you’re painting in watercolor. This will help them “fit in” better with the snow and they won’t look like hard-edged snakes coming toward you!

Also, remember to connect your shadows in backlit situations so they won’t appear like stripes on the snow. Don’t be afraid to mess them up a little, because they do have to go over bumps, rocks, depressions in the snow, etc.

“It’s Snow Time” was painted en plein air in Rocky Mountain National Park in March. It was one of the only sunny and non-windy days I tried to paint! Be sure to click on the painting to enlarge it a bit. This painting was juried into the Plein Air Artists Colorado Annual Exhibit at Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO, September 1-30, if you’re in the area.

Thanks for looking at my blog and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Tell a friend about it – they can email me to be alerted when I add a new post: cecy@cecyturner.com. Happy Painting!

What is another way to connect foliage on aspen trees?

"Golden Glow" Watercolor 17x11" image size
“Golden Glow”
Watercolor
17×11″ image size

In my previous post, I showed a C curve that connected the aspen foliage. In the above watercolor, I used a subtle S curve to connect the foliage immediately surrounding the main large tree ion the right. You can see it if you start at the leaves at the top middle of the painting, follow it down diagonally to the right to the “duller” foliage, back diagonally to the left, and down to the right, where it ends up in front of the main tree. This, in effect, is an S curve.

In connecting foliage into an organized and interesting pattern instead of "helter skelter" on the painting, the leaves don't have to always physically connect. The eye can connect them, even if there is a break in them.
In connecting foliage into an organized and interesting pattern instead of “helter skelter” on the painting, the leaves don’t have to always physically connect. The eye can connect them, even if there is a break in them.

Be sure to click on “Golden Glow” to enlarge it. I painted it as a demonstration for the Richardson Civic Art Society in Richardson, Texas, in January and then put finishing touches on it back in my studio. This painting will be included in the 31st Annual Texas and Neighbors Regional Art Exhibition at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur, Irving, TX,  from April 16th – May 14th. Judge Soon Warren chose 80 out of 499 entries, so I’m very honored to have my painting included.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Be sure to tell a friend to email me if they would like to receive notification of posts on An Aspen A Day.

cecy@cecyturner.com

How do I design and connect aspen tree foliage?

"Fall at Its Best" Plein Air Watercolor 15x11"
“Fall at Its Best”
Plein Air Watercolor
15×11″

The foliage in “Fall at Its Best” might seem random or even “like it was” in nature…but it’s not. Rarely when I’m doing an aspen painting on location is the foliage in any kind of design that holds together. It’s usually “all over the place,” so I have to force it into some kind of design. We’ve discussed good shapes before, but how do we connect those shapes?

If you look closely at the foliage, you will see a curve to it that resembles a C curve that leads around and connects behind the trees. It's subtle, but it's there. This is one way to connect the foliage.
If you look closely at the foliage, you will see a curve to it that resembles a C curve that leads around and connects behind the trees. It’s subtle, but it’s there. This is one way to connect the foliage.

The C curve leads around from the middle section of the painting to the top. This is just one of many ways to do it. Stay tuned! And, don’t forget to click on the painting to enlarge. And…Have a Happy New Year! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. See more aspen trees on my web site, www.cecyturner.com.

How do I add an animal into an aspen tree painting?

How Do I Add an Animal Into an Aspen Tree Painting?

"Safe Haven" Oil on Linen Canvas 16x20"
“Safe Haven”
Oil on Linen Canvas
16×20″

Adding an animal from another photograph into an aspen tree painting can be tricky because you want to be sure the animal is in proportion to what is around him. The ideal situation would be to have the photograph of the animal already positioned where you want him in the aspens, but this isn’t always possible!

Try to find another photo or photo of a painting in a magazine of an animal among the aspen trees to see the size of the animal in relation to the trees.
Try to find another photo or photo of a painting in a magazine of an animal among the aspen trees to see the size of the animal in relation to the trees.

Then, and this is the hard part, scale your animal photo up or down to a size you think would fit – I do this by drawing a “box” around the outer edges of the animal and then making the box smaller or larger IN PROPORTION TO THE ORIGINAL BOX and sketching the animal in the new box to try. Then, I cut out the animal with scissors and stick him among the trees to see if he looks the correct size. That is just what I did in “Safe Haven,” above. Be sure to click on the image to enlarge the painting. You can move the animal around to see where he looks the best and makes the most interesting composition.

“Painting is not easy – if it were, everyone would be doing it.”  (I forgot who said that, but I think it’s a very good quote). Sometimes we have to stretch, and stretching is good for us! Finding other artists’ work in art magazines is great to use as a jumping off point – for instance, the relative size of their animals in relation to trees around them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I will be posting more often now that I’m not out there painting aspens every day (for a while).

Save the date! November 14th from 5-8 p.m. is my Annual Open Studio. See my web site www.cecyturner.com under Exhibits for details!

How do I use aspen trees in the foreground to create depth in a mountain painting?

"Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road"  9x12 plein air oil
“Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road”
9×12 plein air oil

Cover the three large aspen shapes with your fingers and see what is lost in this painting! Without the large shapes in the foreground, you lose a lot of depth and interest in the painting. Also, the warm yellow helps to contrast against the cool gray greens of the distant pines on the mountain and the gray mountains. Click on it to enlarge and notice the soft edges on the yellow foliage. Tree foliage does not have hard edges, unless you want it very close-up and to show individual leaves. Even in this case, you would want to paint most of it softened and be selective about bringing out too many hard edges.

Now that you have large shapes in the foreground, how do I get back to the background?
Now that you have large shapes in the foreground, how do I get back to the background?

The zig-zag pattern of the yellow grasses and bushes helps get from the foreground to the background. Notice how the yellows in the distant part of the zig zag are not as intense as the foreground portion. The ground is also warmer in the foreground than in the distance. Think!

“Autumn Attire Near Fish Creek Road” was juried into the Plein Air Artists Colorado exhibition at Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder, CO. www.marywilliamsfinearts.com

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and feel free to tell your friends to email me if they would like notifications of new posts: cecy@cecyturner.com

How do I soften the edges on aspen foliage to make it less distinct?

"Lining Up for Fall" 17x11 Watercolor

“Lining Up for Fall” 17×11 Watercolor

In this demonstration I painted for the Irving Art Association in Irving, Texas, I showed how to soften the foliage behind the tree on the left in order to leave the foliage near the tree on the right, my star, more distinct. In order to do this, I didn’t soften the edges with a damp brush after I applied the paint; instead, I started at the top and tried to paint the sky and the foliage at the same time in order to have them “mingle” a little in the process.

Tip of the Day

This is a little difficult to do, more so in watercolor than in oils, because you have to be a magician and juggle several things at once before your paper dries on you! It takes practice – applying the sky color, then the foliage color while the sky is still wet – and at the same time, not getting any paint on the white aspens where you don’t want it! The paper can’t be TOO wet, or your sky and leaves will totally run together. Practice, practice, practice. It’s so rewarding when you get the effect you want in watercolor.

This watercolor recently won First Place in the Associated Creative Artists Annual Awards Exhibit in Dallas!

Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope it was helpful. Tell a friend to email me at cecy@cecyturner.com to receive notifications of new posts! Check out my web site, www.cecyturner.com, to view more of my new work.

How do I use shapes to point the viewer where I want him or her to look?

How do I use shapes to point the viewer where I want him or her to look?

Plein Air Watercolor 15 x 11
Plein Air Watercolor “Summer Glow”
15 x 11

In “Summer Glow” I rearranged some logs that were there (and eliminated the ones I didn’t need) to “point” the viewer into the painting. There is no way the viewer can’t to into my picture with these strong “pointers” in the foreground! Click on the image to enlarge.

When you add a shape in the foreground...
When you add a shape in the foreground…

Be sure the shapes you add as “pointers” don’t actually take you OUT of the foreground at the bottom of the painting! I tried to prevent this from happening, which would defeat the purpose, by putting my logs in shadow closest to the viewer, then having them come out into the light as they “point” into the painting. Strong lights at the bottom of the painting would lead to the bottom of the painting, not to the aspen trees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and will visit my web site, www.cecyturner.com to see the eight new paintings I’ve added under Plein Air Studies and under Landscapes.

How Do I Mix Colors for Fall Aspen Foliage in Shadow?

"Autumn in Bloom" Oil on Linen Canvas 14x11
“Autumn in Bloom”
Oil on Linen Canvas
14×11

In order to make the center of interest aspen stand out, I made its foliage the brightest, and this meant that the foliage of the other aspens had to be dulled down a little, or put partially in shadow. I hate using the word “dull” or “gray” when it applies to yellow aspen leaves, so how do I keep them bright and clean while dulling them? First I take a color I use in the bright yellows, for instance cadmium yellow medium, and add touches of the other two primaries – in this case, alizarin crimson for the red, and either cerulean or cobalt blue for the blue. Using touches of the last two primaries darkens the yellow while keeping it clear and doesn’t muddy it. (Click on the image to enlarge it).

Notice that I left something out...
Notice that I left something out…

When I dull down the aspen foliage, notice that I didn’t use any white! I want to keep it in shadow. If it gets too dark, I add more yellow. Some people seem to stick white in everything, thereby cooling the mixture and sometimes making it chalky looking. Use as little white as possible!

Thanks for reading my blog, and feel free to pass it along.

“Autumn in Bloom” will be on display at the Panhandle-Plains Invitational Western Art Show and Sale at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, TX, from March 7th – 28th, 2015.

How to keep yellows bright in fall aspen tree foliage

"Autumn Showcase"  Plein Air Oil on Board  12x9
“Autumn Showcase” Plein Air Oil on Board 12×9

How to keep yellows bright in fall aspen tree foliage

Autumn Showcase was painted in front of our house in Colorado. I changed the background and singled out three trees and went to work! It will be one of my submissions for Plein Air Southwest Salon (PASW) at Southwest Gallery in Dallas, TX, beginning April 11, 2015.

On a sunny day, I try to keep my yellows as bright as possible, because that is the way I see them on sunlit fall aspen trees. To do this, I use three yellows in varying combinations: cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow medium and Indian yellow. On the beginning block-in and first layer after that, I do NOT add any white. At the very end, and only for the most sunlit leaves, I add a tiny bit of white to this mixture. Too much white changes the color of the bright yellows and makes the paint have a chalky look.

What about edges of the foliage?
What about edges of the foliage?

The sharpest edges should be kept around the center of interest, in this case the largest tree out in front. Most of them, not all of them, should be softened as the foliage goes away from the center of interest. It’s kind of like a camera focusing on something and the rest of the picture is a little blurry. To do this is easy if you’re painting plein air – you can just put down the color and with one brush stroke, sweep the color out into the background while it is wet. (Click on the image to enlarge). Stay tuned for next blog, how I mix the yellows in shadow. Feel free to pass this on to a friend and tell them they may email me at cecy@cecyturner.com to receive notifications of posts, or they may leave a comment on my blog. Thanks for tuning in, and Happy New Year!