Spring and flowering trees
I has been a while since I have worked up a painting. Lately my emphasis has been on the spontaneous and fast expression of my reaction to what is to presented to me by nature. Essentially I have been sketching; seeking to a conclusion and the conclusion is a finished painting. I am still firmly committed to the concept of daily painting and gladly embrace it. However, there is another aspect that I want to explore; a more compositional or designed and more “contemplated ” work.
“The artist builds with line, shape and color. It is upon the organization of the elements that the success of any composition depends.”
Spring and flowering trees
The process of painting is a lone adventure and unique to each individual. You discover your process through practice. Trying new approaches to the exciting adventures that come with expeditions into nature and the medium.
“After a thousand watercolors you will find you have fallen in love with paper and paint.”
Spring Flowering Trees 1
This painting began with a couple of plein air value studies using brush and ink. I like working up value studies this way because I can work quickly and my approach is very similar to the way watercolors are worked up going from light to dark, or more accurately from thin to saturated.
The first value study focused on the high contrast between the flowering tree and the background behind it. Compositionally the flowering tree is too centered and their is a lack of visual excitement to this kind of arrangement. However, I am beginning to establish some of the important relationships.
Spring Flowering Trees 2
The second attempt at the subject is much more interesting with more variation in the composition; as well as, movement. At this point, I am beginning to find the hook to this piece. I found the white dancing across the page in a delightful way. Once discovered, preserving the pristine whites become even more important than it usually is. The arrangement of shapes and the way the eye moves around the work is also beginning to become more interesting.
After the second study dried, a process I hastened along with a hair dryer, I did a tracing to help solidify the shapes and improve the drawing. Sometimes this can tighten up my approach to line and lock me into an almost coloring book way of working but that is not necessarily a negative thing. Once I finished the tracing I used it to transfer the drawing to watercolor paper.
Finally, I was able to start the fun. Actually if I did not enjoy the entire process I would not bother with any of it and I wouldn’t call myself a painter. I began working this work with an intense saturated underpainting in Lemon Yellow (Sakura). Following the yellow I began with glazes of Turquoise (Cotman). Using this greenish, warm blue began to create the greens of the background. Gradually the greens were deepened by adding increasingly saturated washes of turquoise; then Ultramarine (Holbein). At this point I began to add the warmer colors Purple Lake (Cotman) and Burnt Sienna (Royal Talens).
Spring and flowering trees (uncropped)
Once I had finished the painting and it had dried overnight, I began the part I call living with the piece. I hang it in a prominent place and see how I react to the piece. Certain things bothered me from the beginning. I was uncomfortable with the proportions and how it sat on the page. It did not take long for me to decided the work needed cropping. So I did cutting it down to the 9×6 you see at the beginning of the post.
Here are some links on value studies and using black and White masses:
James Gurney- Cure for Middle Value Mumblings
Peggy Stermer-Cox- Value of Value Studies
Richard Huston-Ink Sketches 021712 and Ink Sketches 021812