Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow, Thou Art My Friend

I went to bed expecting to get a few inches of snowfall last night, and woke up to find my expectations fulfilled. :) Getting to class was iffy, so I stayed home and painted the day away listening to Kevin Swanson's Generations podcast.

Some major (at least to me it's major) progress to report too, especially in the water and the marshy field in the background.

If you saw the last post you may have noticed that the scenery looked remarkably like the dead marshes from LotR; the swamp was barren and flat, extending for miles until it reached the dark foothills in the distance. Not really the landscape I had envisioned for my painting...

Then I had the fortunate inspiration to add some trees and ground fog, and the scene suddenly had a great sense of depth and detail that it was seriously lacking before. I'm immensely happy with it now!

As for the water, well, I've always struggled with water. It's just a tough thing to paint properly. Last year's entry was completed right on the deadline, so I didn't devote nearly enough time and effort to the water--and it shows. But when you analyze photographs and successful paintings that feature water, you'll learn that it can actually be a simple thing to tackle. There are essentially three elements that you want to remember when you paint water (specifically disturbed or rippling water)--the establishing color, the crest highlights and the valley shadows.

The establishing color determines the overall coloration of the water (in this case blue), but since water is highly reflective it may contain a variety of different colors (even opposite colors) depending on the conditions. When you're dealing with ripples or small waves, as in this painting, the "crest" of each wave or ripple will be highlighted, and the space in between the crests will be shaded--this can get really interesting when you accent the crests or valleys with a completely different color caused by the reflections of the surroundings. In this case I felt that the water needed some carefully placed brown accents to suggest the reflection of the reeds along the shore. All the shapes in the water are distinct and have a specific reason for being there.

I hope that didn't put you to sleep, but if it did, sweet dreams!


Adam Nisbett said...

It's looking good! I'll be looking forward to more updates.

Try to mix colors rather than using Black or Payne's Grey whenever possible (I never use either) as they tend to look drab and lifeless. Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine often make a great gray.

Also, it is recommended for the Adult level that you try to make your painting warm colored overall. I would guess that it would likely be true of the Jr competition as well, so keep the Burnt Sienna handy. I've found that sometimes a very light wash can change the color tone nicely, but be careful because it is possible to lose a bit of detail.

Keep up the good work!

Benjamin said...

Thanks for the suggestions Adam. The tip about warm colors is really helpful. Last night as I put it away I noticed that it seemed to be lacking something in that regard, and it's a lot easier to fix that at this point in the game then it would be later on.

I've got a few more pics to post before the snow kicks in again and steals our satellite signal. :)