Forest Fringe

We had a day out with some dear English friends over visiting from their home in the US. The plan was to go to Thetford Forest, have a picnic, and do the ‘Go Ape’ treetop adventure. Now, I quite like tree climbing, but have done this recently, so I opted to stay on the ground, look after the bags and try for a sketch.

I could see a border of trees from where we ‘camped’ in the central grassy area. I was drawn by the shapes of the tallest tree and the shortest, and although the composition isn’t necessarily great, I sketched fairly closely what was in front of me. I do confess that I edited out the picnickers who were coming and going constantly…they were just too distracting to include!High Lodge Watercolour

I find trees a challenge to paint. There’s something about ‘green’ which really isn’t simple. So many different variations of colour, shade and shape. And that’s without even getting into the browns and greys of bark, and the shadows – what colour are they, even? I do find that creating intense darks is tricky, but I suspect that’s more my technique than due to any inherent characteristic of the pan paints themselves.

Anyway, in this picture I tried to go darker than usual, with some success, aiming for a contrast between the rather bleached grassy area and the dark, cool shades of the forest behind. I think maybe the shadows on the grass under the treesย  weren’t dark enough, but I’m not going to dive in and change that now.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I was done and dusted by the time the rest of the party came back from their high-wire tour, so I could concentrate freely on eating and talking!

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10 thoughts on “Forest Fringe

  1. I’m with Sharon, man. It is very tree-true and summery. I know some painters don’t take greens straight, but usually mix something into them, like burnt umber. However, the purists only use greens they mix with a yellow and a blue–a yellow and a blue which also appear in the same piece–so the greens integrate with the whole. Shadows can come from a mix of cerulean and burnt sienna–the blue reflects the sky and the burnt sienna, the ground. Again, it helps if both those shades are also found somewhere else in the painting, separately. Does this help at all? I find greens quite tiresome, truthfully. There is just SO MUCH OF IT in the Summer, when painting. That’s why I usually go for nocturnal scenes, or Winter, or late Autumn (for one thing, they’re moodier, which I like, but not all do).

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    • Thank you so much Lance, this is very helpful indeed. I have mixed my palette greens with other colours, but not from blues and yellows straight, so that is something I think I should experiment with, also the cerulean and burnt sienna shades. These are great practical tips – thank you. Definitely something to work on! You are right about the volume of green – it’s overwhelming…good job autumn’s approaching! ๐Ÿ™‚

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