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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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?
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?
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!
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!
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.
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
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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.
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!
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How do I use shapes to point the viewer where I want him or her to look?
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.
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.
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).
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!
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“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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to receive notifications of posts, or they may leave a comment on my blog. Thanks for tuning in, and Happy New Year!
This large painting was done from several studies I did in Rocky Mountain National Park. I often work this way because it gives me the truest colors and values, much more accurate than a camera, because it is what I saw, not what the camera saw. I added the puddles in the road for a reason.
I decided that another way to lead into the painting could be puddles, placed in strategic places, not just at random, to work in the painting. The largest puddle in the foreground is mostly in the shadow, so it won’t distract, but the right top edge of it forms a sharp “pointer” to the main aspen on the right. Click on the painting to enlarge it and see what I’m talking about. Then the logs take over and hopefully further lead you to the aspen tree.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it gives you something to think about. Feel free to share with friends and have them email me at email@example.com if they want to be placed on my notification list of new posts on my blog. Merry Christmas!