Saturday, February 9, 2013

Birch Tree final answer....

At some point early in the week, I decided that the effort I put into the (first) Birch Tree painting was insufficient.  Though I rarely do this I started it over.  The reason I rarely do a painting again is I feel that if I don't succeed, I will have wasted twice as much time on one thing.  Time doesn't allow me to waste time on one try, much less two tries.  But I felt strongly about this project.  There were elements in the first one that showed possibilities.   I took the reference photo at Gabriel Park last winter and had thought about it quite a few times.
To be honest, it's hard to go wrong with birch trees in the sense that the white bark makes it  immediately recognizable.  The angle looking up is appealing to the eye,'s a tree.  No one can accuse you of putting a branch in the wrong place.  Speaking of which, I found it a challenge to get the branch coming in from the right side of the painting to look right.  It followed the angle of the branch behind it, which made it look too symmetrical to the branch behind it.....If you want to read the boring details there's more below. 

 It's funny how I started so carefully but still ended up putting too dark a wash on the branches right off the bat....
This is for my own records more than anything, but feel free to read on if you want to see the process.
I spent a good amount of time on the drawing. (45 min)  I wanted to get the shadows and dark areas of the bark right.
I knew if I casually eyeballed it,  the painting would look too symmetrical or forced.
I put some masking on the areas I didn't want to accidentally paint. I started with the forward branch thinking that would be my biggest challenge.  I wanted to get the light area believable because the sun was directly on that branch  .  Then I spent considerable time trying to get the moss to look right.  I layed down a light layer of  Naples Yellow, followed by the greens.  I continued to try to get the moss to look right, but I finally ended up layering  washes of paint, then taking out the color to highlight the light areas. I had to get much more dark in there than I first thought.
The front top branch was difficult. It was stripped of bark and the birch wood was showing thru.  I tried a light wash but had to rework it many times to get it. 
The branch coming in from the right front was a pain and I wished I would have deleted that from the composition because it ran almost exactly the same line as the large branch behind it.  It was dark brown thin and didn't really fit.   So I ended up working that many times too. First light brown then dark brown, finally settling on Ultramarine blue (mixed with the browns), just to get it to fit cohesively into the painting.

I was pretty bold with the Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue for the shadows.  I had to pull a fair amount of the Ultramarine Blue back out, but left it in the darkest areas.
My goal was to take my time and leave enough unpainted surface so as not to make it look overworked.  In reality, I reworked a lot of it.
What I should remember:  Look sideways at the subject when having trouble getting the correct colors and values.
This helps to avoid making assumptions about what should be there as opposed to what really is there.
Work closely on the focal points, but stand back enough to make sure what you do fits.
Avoid trial and error on the painting.  Use a test patch for areas of difficulty to avoid reworking too much.
The last thing is something I rarely do enough of.  I don't have patience to wait and see if it dries right.
This is the main reason I work on cold pressed paper.  I need the ability to "scrub".
Finally,  one of the reasons I included these notes is so one day I wont have to re work my painting as much.

Got crazy for a minute with ULt. blue and had to take it out of that front branch, among other places.

1 comment:

  1. That`s very successful Kevin! An interesting read too. Sure doesn`t look like you sweated any of it.