Waterfalls

I have started on another sketch, this time of a waterfall, wanted to share this before I close for the day. Just a first wash though, I have yet to muse over what foliage I want to paint growing beside it.

bubbling stream

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Landscape color studies finished page

I have added a few more to the page I had already shown: a pomegranate, any red fruit/flower tree really, tree in overcast, foggy conditions,one lit by a late afternoon sun and one of a silhouette in low light after sunset. Enjoy!

trees_in_various_lightingconditions

Landscape color studies

Today I have done two more of these thumbnail studies: another one of a warm sunrise and one of a cool, misty moonlit night. Hope you like them!

landscapecolorstudies

 

Sketchbook page

I’m trying to capture here the sense of  light and  atmosphere in these tiny imaginary landscapes. The one to the right is of a clear, early morning where the light is pouring in from behind the trees, the one in the middle is of a dappled light where the sun is playing peek-a-boo with the clouds and the one on the left is of a harsh midday sun:

Light in landscape

Finished painting

landscape painting in watercolor

 

To continue with the demo, here I am working wet-on-dry on the top part of the tree, leaving some negative shapes for the leaves. I have also started laying in cooler blue green washes for the mountains.

landscapestage7

More work on the tree:

landscapestage8

In the final stages, I have used the same green mixes, only lighter and a little less saturated on the distant land and trees. Put in some highlights for the shine on the leaves and lighter values around the edges of the tree and the sparkle on the water with white gouache slightly tinted with the watercolors. Hope you enjoyed it!

Progress on the painting

I have yet to put in the finishing touches to the painting, but I thought I would photograph and share it here before the light starts fading for today:

laststageslandscape

First washes – landscape painting

In this step, I am laying in the color notes for the entire scene. The value scheme in normal daylight conditions is: sky and water lightest, ground slightly darker and upright elements like trees are in the mid value range, so that is something I keep in mind as I go along. The foreground grass is the nearest and warmest, so there is lot of yellow in that area which I mixed with new gamboge and phthalo blue. The left side of the tree at the bottom is nearer to us, it is a more saturated middle green:

painting trees in watercolor

The right side of the tree at the top is catching light, so it is warmer.  As we look at the tree against the light of the sky, our eyes cannot distinguish the true color at the edges of the tree, I have a established a grey color note in these places with a mix of winsor newton ultramarine violet and new gamboge and a bit of prussian blue:

painting trees in watercolor

Here I am painting negative shapes and strengthening the colors with deeper shades of green mixed with green gold, phthalo blue, ultramarine violet, perylene green and prussian blue:

painting trees in watercolor

The foliage in the middle part of the tree is behind the tree and catching the light directly so it is quite a bright yellow green. In the lower part of the tree, I am connecting the dark shapes with each other so that they form a pattern and not just random spots strewn together, I have lost my pencil lines altogether in the wet-in-wet washes so I am making up the shapes as I go along which is probably a good thing in the end:

painting trees in watercolor

Landscape demo in watercolor

I have started painting this landscape, the photo of which I had taken on the way upto Mt. Pilatus (I think!, my photo folders are all really messed up). The fall of the branches and stems looks so pretty, that I finally settled for this close up of the tree itself as the main focus instead of the entire view. Feeling euphoric to be painting in watercolour again!

watercolourfirstwashes

I have put in a few leaves in liquid frisket to leave as highlights, then an initial wash testing the colors and getting my feet wet. I have used green gold and phthalo blue to get a green which I subdued with a red orange (Daniel smith Pyrrol scarlet):

watercolorfirstwashes_landscape

High up in the clouds

sunset in the clouds watercolor painting

sunset in the clouds

Just finished this painting, the principle for painting sunsets as with painting any piece of work that you want infused with a sense of light is the same, lighter and warmer towards the light source; darker and cooler away from the light source. The first time I really got the concept of warm-cool in the landscape context was when I saw this course notes on painting sunsets by landscape artist and teacher Richard Robinson. He explains very clearly the principles involved, and also how to take photographs so that we can recover the color information lost in the lights or the darks (depending on whether one focuses on the land or sky). Do check it out, its part of a larger mastering color course that can be purchased. His beautiful artwork is available at his website.

 

 

 

Lone cloud painting and How to paint paint blue skies

 

Detail of skyscape painting

Detail of skyscape painting

 

I cloudscape painting in watercolorswanted to look into the sky gradations a little more closely so I decided to do a simple skyscape painting. Also, I had been meaning to try this broken color technique from a long time, ever since I read this beautiful book on color by Walter Sargent actually (links at the end of article), but I held out at doing the excercises mentioned and waited to use it in something representational. This technique is used to set up a vibration or pulsating quality to a tone by placing it along with its two adjacent hues in the hue wheel. For e.g, here to achieve the blue tone of the sky I have used green, blue and violet in wet in wet washes. Green and violet when mixed together on the palette make a low chroma blue, so placing them next to each other instead of mixing them fully on the palette lets them be mixed visually by the eye so the area has a kind of shimmering quality to it that would not exist in a flat tone of blue. The tones must be controlled so that the overall effect from a distance looks blue and not green or violet and also so that the effect gradates from a warm blue to a cool blue and lighter to darker away from the sun (as discussed previously). The values of the 3 hues must be the same in any one area.

first washes - broken color

first washes – broken color

This quality of broken color or different colors playing subtly against each other actually does exist in nature, if we try to match a color sample or swatch from a home depo store to any color in nature, we see that they will never match exactly. The way the light plays across or through its surface, its texture and anamolies, reflected light from other surfaces all contribute to a sensation of its own unique color quality with its different group of tones which sets it apart from other surfaces which might have the same color but give a different color sensation. For e.g, red stained glass looks different from a red apple or a red piece of velvet. Distant mountains or trees catching the light of the sinking sun will have specks of complementary(to the light source) colors playing in their shadows. Its good to observe these effects first in nature before starting to apply them as `techniques`or `formulae` because I feel, that that will prevent direct observation of facts and consequently in the long run also our own creative expression of these facts if they are practiced before first perceiving them. Its more important to train the eye than the hand. The hand naturally follows the eye. In any case, its a very interesting study even for those who don`t paint. I remember back in the days when art was the last thing in my mind, I used to go up to our terrace with a book of Jiddu Krishnamurti or the Mother just before sunset time, to read and, at the end of a few sentences, I would look up and lose myself completely in nature, becoming one with the vast skies, the leaves rustling happily in the trees and the birds hurrying back, so content, to their resting places. Now after reading a lot of books on light and color, and knowing what to look for has only deepened my appreciation for color, what a profound joy it gives, just color in and of itself without any form to support it! In another place and time now, we have two balconies one facing to the north and one to the south and I can see patches of sky and hill in all four quadrants of the sky so I love to scurry along back and forth between the two to compare the colors at different times of the day and different weather conditions.

Well, back to the painting, here I have started laying in the color of the mountains, they are quite blue in the distance and as they come towards the viewer they get warmer or greener.

laying in the mountains

laying in the mountains

Talking about warm and cool colors immediately gives the impression of saturated yellows and reds versus blues to the mind but landscape colors are quite unsaturated and the gradations very subtle. You can use cards that have small holes punched in them and look through these to compare colors in the different parts of the sky. Color can be very deceiving, how we perceive a color depends largely on the colors surrounding it and so to isolate it helps us see its true color. You can also use the color picker on your photo editor to look at these differences. Here I have picked out colors from the top left part of the sky (where the sun is shining from) down to the horizon. You can see the low chroma blue (which has more yellow in it than the blue on the right hand side) going slightly greener and lighter towards the bottom. As it goes down the chroma also gets weaker that is , it gets grayer because additive mixing of blue light and yellow light (at horizon) makes white light. The luminous glow at the horizon is actually a slightly darker tan color, if we make it the light and bright orange yellow that it looks like, the area will come forward unnaturally (this tan color becomes grayish towards the right side). The next two colors are the colors of the very distant mountain and the nearer one.

sky gradations

sky gradations

Here are the colors of the mountains, which are very close to neutral yet changing from blue and light to green and dark. They look almost of one tone but the shadows have bits of blue and violet in them so this is where the broken color technique can be used.

mountain gradations

mountain gradations

Landscape painting in watercolors

finished painting

 

 

Further resources:

20th century but still relevant book on color, how light effects surfaces, color sensations, color mixing and techniques, color harmonies … a beautiful book : The Enjoyment and Use of Color by Walter Sargent.

Artist and illustrator James Gurney explains the gradations that occur in blue skies in his well researched article Sky Blue.

Pastel artist Richard Mckinley explains how he uses the broken color technique in his beautiful works at Painting Blue Skies.

Another 20th century book which makes for a thoroughly fascinating read is by Faber Birren , in which he talks about color effects in contrast to color schemes : Creative Color