Sunday, February 24, 2008

Watercolor Painting - Trees - Demo Part 1

Rhonda Carpenter asked me the other day about the process I use to paint these trees, so I thought I would do a little demo, to practise up for teaching my first watercolor class in April.

The process is quite simple really. Not overly difficult to plan or execute.
The first thing I do is decide on a color scheme. I usually use one blue pigment as the base for each color - in this case Fr. Ultramarine. You can choose a cool or warm theme, a more reddish or greenish color scheme, or use more realistic color (but that takes all the fun out of it).
I mix the blue with Burnt Sienna to make a nice light grey color, that shifts and settles on the paper in such a way that not all areas are a uniform grey, but varying shades of blue and grey, with spots where the Burnt Sienna shows too. Very nice. I use this first color to define the shaded area of the tree, and the areas where branches come out, and the scarred parts of the tree. I just scrumble it on, trying to follow the curve of the trunk to give it definition, leaving lots of white space for future color.

Step 1 - First layer of color.
Crop of Step 1.

After this layer dries, I use the same mix, add a little water, pull in some more blue, and add a red - Permanent Aliz Crimson, Windsor Red...whatever fits your color scheme - to make a nice purplish color. Using this mix, I fill in some of the spaces between the base color. I just scrumble the paint on again, overlapping in some areas, leaving white spaces. I do this until it 'looks right'...shaded areas work, color follows the curve of the tree trunk. Let this layer dry.

Step 2 - Second layer of paint


Step 3 - Third color layer, adding darks.


For the third layer I use the same mix, adding more water and pulling in more blue and Burnt Sienna, but making the mixture lean much more to the blue side, and darker than the first layer. I dab this color on in the darker areas - where branches emerge, where there are scars on the bark, etc. Just look at a tree...you'll know when you've got it right.
When this layer is dry, I step back and look at the painting, seeing where it needs adjustments - more dark, more shadow, more even color, a variety of dark and light areas.

Stay tuned for the next steps!!

PS I bought myself some W&N Kolinsky brushes...I love them!!!

7 comments:

Nava said...

You're a woman of sooooooooooooooooooo much patience!

Joan said...

This is great to watch!!! I love seeing how people paint! Your trees always come out so super, so I can't wait to see what you do next.

Tracy Wandling said...

Thanks Joan - next step coming up soon!!

RHCarpenter said...

This is so cool and I've discovered it really isn't patience but slow painting and looking that does the trick! Thanks for sharing this technique - I may have to try it on trees as they are such obvious subjects for this! Good luck with your teaching!!

laura said...

Thanks, Tracy, this is really illuminating. I had wondered about how you achieved that wonderful texture... This process seems to require a lot of thinking, though, which is contrary to how I work!! ;-)

Tracy Wandling said...

Thanks Rhonda and Laura - I'm glad that it is helpful. It was really fun to do. And really, as Rhonda says, it is more LOOKING than thinking. You just keep scribbling until it LOOKS right. It just seems like thinking when it's all written out like that. The only real decisions are: 1) what colors am I going to use and 2) when should I stop!! LOL
Happy Painting!

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