Work in Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 15

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 15

             I got a bit further than I thought I would over the past week. I made

changes to the evergreen trees on the left, completed nearly all of the waterfall, added more of the frozen creek near the bottom and began painting in the hemlock tree on the right.

Ever since I completed the evergreens on the left, something bothered me about them. The heavy burden of snow just didn’t seem right. Even though it appeared real, it didn’t seem so to me. Maybe it was the amount of snow. I checked other reference photos, but couldn’t isolate and define my problem with it. Maybe it was just too much snow, although heavy, deep snows appear everywhere else in the painting. The amount of white on that side also was a departure from the much darker forms I had in the value and color sketches. I eventually decided that the snow on the branches had to be reduced and broken up into smaller pieces. That would also increase the dark values I originally planned for that side.

Using the same colors used previously for the foliage, I went back in and started breaking up the large masses of snow into much smaller ones out near the ends of the branches. Much of the left side in the shadows was left untouched, but the front and right sides were reduced considerably. So, much of the snow that lay on interior branches was eliminated – as if the wind had kept the snow from piling up on the branches. In places I added white gouache to indicate snow near the tips of the branches. To help give a three dimensional look to the trees, I also added lighter greens, indicating sunlit tips. By the time I finished re-working the trees, I felt better about their appearance. There was a more real look to them.

I had already painted in much of the snow and rocks in lower left, but continued refining it by intensifying the colors and adding more detail. A little more grass was added and some darker colors were added to increase the three dimensionality and form.

Next, the area to the right of the large rock at the bottom received attention. That area, mostly frozen but still having some water flowing is irregular and bumpy, as the water continues to move down stream. I added layer after layer of winsor blue and paynes grey to define the course of the water flowing through and areas where the sunlight sparkled on the surface. By adding the darker tones, even though they are broken up and still contain much white, the sunlight on the snow on the large rock becomes more obvious. It is interesting how the play of lights against darks will bring out seemingly dull areas.

The Mill itself needed to stand out a bit more. I think the shadow side was not dark enough, so I added a couple more glazes of paynes grey. The glazes had to be done quickly to avoid dissolving the detail already there.

The waterfall was extended next. Using the same techniques and colors (winsor blue and paynes grey) as the rest of the falls, I painted in the rest of it across to the tree on the right. At the same time I finished up the large rock just below the Mill. The rocks were first layed in with paynes grey, then finished with a combination of French ultramarine blue and burnt umber, with some yellow ochre for highlights.

The hemlock tree on the right was added last. Here, I used French ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with some permanent rose, to get an almost black color, and painted in the trunk and branches. Although not all the branches are in, I wanted to get a feel for the foliage, so I painted in some of the masses to see how it worked. The hemlock needles were painted in with a ultra round brush, using ultramarine, hookers green and yellow ochre.

The painting is nearing completion. I’m hoping another week. I’ll continue to finish the trees on the right and then see what needs final touches.

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Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 14

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 14 

            I was finally able to get some time in this past weekend to do some work on the painting. I finished up on the conifers on the left and made some progress on the snow, rocks and frozen creek on the bottom left. More paynes grey was washed in over the area just below the conifer tree and I also darkened the grasses a bit. I built up the shadows in the snow with winsor blue and some paynes grey. The darks of the rocks were first painted in with paynes grey and then later finished with a combination of raw sienna, raw umber and some yellow ochre. The lighter areas of the bigger rock were accomplished by lifting some color before it was completely dry. Stippling of darker paint on the rock helped add some texture.

The sunlit portions of the rocks facing the sunlight received very light washes of new gamboge but otherwise were left completely devoid of any color. The juxtaposition of slightly darker shades of paynes grey and winsor blue made the sunlit snow on the rocks seem brighter. All it takes is a little darker value next to white to bring it out.

I’ve purposely left detail in some areas unfinished until the later stages of the painting to see what changes might be necessary as I relate one area to another.

I’m going to continue my way across the painting from left to right, working in the still unfrozen water just to the right of the big rock at the bottom. I’ll also continue with the waterfall, working toward the right. Then I’ll start working in the trees on the right.

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Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 13

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 13

             In the last week I’ve begun work on the fir trees on the left. I was anxious to get them in because they impact the mass of shrubs under the bridge. The abrupt stop of the shrub mass on its left edge was bothering me and influencing my opinion of the painting. With nothing else as dark the shrub mass was commanding too much attention. By adding the trees the eye is led further left, and the abrupt end of the mass is eliminated. The darks continue to move left until stopped with the large fir tree on the bank of the creek. I’ve added more snow on the tree than I first anticipated because I didn’t want a huge dark mass that might have proved too important, taking attention away from the Mill. As it is, with the snow laden branches, I think it becomes important enough, but (I hope) not too important.

I used both masking fluid and white gouache for the snow. I started out masking out areas of snow on the trees, then painting the darks of the foliage, but eventually I added more white here and there with gouache later as I fine-tuned the snow. In some cases it wasn’t the right shape, in others there wasn’t enough or wasn’t placed just right. After looking at reference photos, it was necessary to make changes – and keep making changes – until I was satisfied. It’s still trial and error. In painting the masses of snow on the branches it’s important to keep in mind the underlying form, the branches that the snow is laying on. Those branches give form to the snow, so, even though you can’t really see the foliage very clearly, it is giving shape to the snow laying on top of it. You can’t just put in a blob of snow and color it. So, that is why I keep re-working the forms until they look correct- so they look like there are branches underneath. When I draw in and then paint the snow I have to feel the branch under it. If I don’t, I have to analyze it and make changes until it feels and looks right.

The foliage is a combination of French ultramarine, hooker’s green, yellow ochre and cadmium yellow. In the darkest recesses I added permanent rose to the mix. I left the interior and unlit left side the darkest and added lighter colors to bring out some of the branches.

Many purist watercolor artists frown on the use of gouache – or any other white paint. They feel that proper planning and preservation of the white paper is the path to follow. I admire their viewpoint and even their skill at being able to do that – and have it come out right. I feel too restricted following that mantra. In some ways I wish I could, and it still bothers me a bit to use white paint (and I will continue to strive for less white paint), but I still make changes to my paintings as I progress through them and need to add more white when necessary.

At this point the upper one third of the largest tree is the most complete. The smaller two trees to the right are in various stages of completion. I’ll work my way down the large tree, adding, re-examining and re-working any area that doesn’t feel right. I’m hoping to have those trees complete by next posting.

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Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 12

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 12

            After getting in most of the waterfall, I felt that I would get to work on the left side. The bank of the creek as well as the evergreen trees would be the focus of my efforts for the next couple of weeks. The mass of shrubs on the bank below the bridge was also bothering me. There was still something about the shrubs that I was unhappy with but I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And I still can’t. I’ve tinkered with it, breaking up the snow, adding more detail in the form of leaves. All that has helped, but I’m still troubled by them.

As you can see, I’ve worked more into the lower left corner. Still working with winsor blue and paynes gray, I began to define the contours, irregularities, bumps and depressions associated with the bank. I started to define the large rocks on the creek edge. This was done by slowly building up the values, checking carefully the nuances in the shade patterns on the forms. At times I’ve had a tendency to want to rush a bit faster with darker washes but I’ve resisted the temptation to go too fast. I may be too cautious, but I still feel slowly creeping up on the desired value and detail is preferable. It is easier to add detail than to take away an overly heavy wash.

In this past week’s session I also added much to the area just below the falls – the area where the water normally spills into a pool before rushing on down the stream. Underlying rocks and buildup of freezing water causes the formation of more interesting textures. The running water still causes small valleys and slits as it falls to lower levels and that still gives the feeling of movement, even though much of the falls is frozen. You can still see how the water runs off the edge onto the rocks below and how it flows over and around underlying rock formations. The forms of the rocks are still there, just covered with ice.

The spots below the fall where liquid water still flows was more paynes gray than blue. I indicated small ripples by leaving streaks and spots of light value.

After the values and shapes on the creek bank were complete I added the grasses that still poke out through the snow. For that I used a mix of yellow ochre, raw umber and raw sienna and a liner brush. Then I went back in with paynes gray to darken the spots where the grasses emerged from the snow.

These areas are not finished yet. I will be deepening the values where necessary. For instance, the liquid water at the base of the falls needs to be darkened somewhat. I think the grasses on the bank could use a bit more work. In fact, more subtle detailing is needed as I go forward. After that I will tackle the fir trees on the left.

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