Friday, 30 January 2015

Winter Orange

Oil on Board, 103/4 x 143/4 inches

Another seasonal Wintry job; this time an almost monochrome landscape, save for that gorgeous slash of orange we often see early or late in the short Winter days.

The composition is unusual in that there's no 'lead-in', but rather the picture plane is divided roughly into three thirds - the sky and distant blue trees, the bank and the water.

Painting snow is fascinating and it's vital to get the tone of it right, depending on the prevailing natural lighting.  Here, it was roughly the same tone as the sky, with that orange slash the lightest tone in the painting, drawing the eye in.

The trickiest part of the painting was depicting the network of frosted branches of the big, gnarled Ash tree, being right in the foreground. I didn't want to paint every branch in, and at first, I made them a little too insistent and false. Using fast-drying Alkyd Oil, I let the sky colour dry too much - painting branches over a dry sky doesn't seem to work and looks too 'cardboard-cut-outy'. So I painted over much of the passage again with slabs of the appropriate sky colour, cutting into the main branches, then immediately worked back into it again with a few twig tones dragged across with a soft flat Rosemary Mongoose brush. Then I added some fine branches with a deliciously long Rosemary Mongoose Rigger, holding it at the end of the 12" handle perpendicular to the board surface, letting the very point of the brush dance over the wet paint. I was much happier with the resultant, more painterly look.

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