Monday, August 9, 2010

2 Hour Sketching Session at the Farm.

Today is hot, brutally sunny and quite humid; not at all inviting but I’d commited to go paint at the farm this morning and have lunch with my mom after so after some procrastinating, I set off around 9:30 and was settled and starting the drawing by 10.  Instead of painting across from the barns, as I would’ve liked, I stopped by the bar-way at the northern boundary of the farm property and sat in the shade of a stand of pine trees that are close to the road.  It was the perfect place to sit because I had shade until 11:30.  There’s something about the strength of the sun on these  summer days that makes me feel I’d like to be in shade for 2 hours instead of trying to tough it out under beating-down sun and being flattened by heat.

I started with the drawing with a sepia charcoal pencil right on the watercolor sketch paper.  I took this short cut because of my wanting to ‘beat the heat.’  When I was done with the sketch, I wet the entire picture area & took the photo.


The water was drying fast, so I re-wet the area and then mixed paint for the first layer/underpainting.  When the paint was mixed, the paper had dried to a good point where the paint would be easy to apply in thin layers.  

I’m using Ultramarine Blue (UB), Cadmium Red (CR) and Cadmium Yellow (CY) in this demonstration.

The mix I started with was thin, mostly blue but enough of the other 2 colors to ‘gray’ it down.  The first layer of paint was applied to every thing except the sky and the fence.  A 2nd layer of the underpaint mix was added to denote darker areas in certain places as the paint dried.  In areas where there was more light, I added a bit of yellow to the underpaint mix.  I saw the scene as being Blue/Green, which is why I added the yellow, to set off lighter areas from dark.  
While the paint dried in the middle and foreground sections of the paper, I put down an underpainting for the sky.

I saw the sky as being milky; not bright and clear but a faded, misty blue and a pale yet color-full gray at the horizon.  I first wet the sky area and then worked in a thin layer (and I mean thin) of CR starting from the tree line on the horizon on the lh side of the picture.  I worked it up into the wetness about 1/3rd of the way up from the horizon.  Then I quickly picked up a little CY and worked it into the tree line at the horizon with the most of being in the light spot on the lh side where I started with the CR.  I then mixed a little blue into the CR/Cy tint on my palette and painted in the blue area starting from the top.  In the place where I wanted to depict ‘Cloud’ I wiped out with a dry brush after I’d completed the wash.  I then took another photo and let it dry for about 5 minutes. 


Break over, I mixed a wash for the sky using all 3 pigments.  Mostly blue, a little yellow, and then a tiny bit of CR.  It was a thin mix, but thicker than the underpainting mix for the sky.  I wet the sky area, but not extravagantly, before I applied the blue sky-wash.  I started at the top and graded it down to the horizon so that the layer over the lightest part of the horizon was quite thin, but enough of a layer to tone-down the tint to a kind of dull glow.  I went around the cloud area, as shown.  The wetness of the paper helped keep the lines smooth where I went around the clouds.


The finishing touches were done with a small brush (#3round) and were done with mixes of darks made with UB, CR and CY, at the strength shown in the swatch.  The darks I mixed were a)mostly blue, b) blue/green c) yellow/blue (d deep violet.  Every mix contains some CR, to some degree.  I applied paint with the small brush, as shown, some of it full strength and then in lighter washes by adding a little water.  The fence was painted using paint mixed from the deep violet+yellow and applied in very thin washes, building up form with darks and lights.


I’m happy with this painting, as a memory and as a practice piece.  I’m glad for the 2 hours I was able to get out and paint today and glad to get home to my air-conditioned bedroom.  


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