Posted on Thu 06 Jun 2019
To capture a misty, ethereal light, it is imperative to use lots of water in a wet-into-wet technique. The trick is to keep your wash area wet so that you have the time to blend and adjust shapes without rushing. Use good-quality cotton paper such as Saunders Waterford or Arches, as these types will absorb water and stay wet for a reasonable amount of time. Keep checking the sheen on the painting to ensure it is not drying too fast or that you have wet the surface unevenly. A matt look indicates it is too dry and a deep glossy appearance with puddles should tell you it is a little too wet. Try to aim for an even satin sheen when seen against the light. If your wash begins turning matt before you have finished, give it a little spray over with a water spray to bring the sheen back up to a workable wetness.
Demonstration - November Mist
With a soft 6B pencil, I drew out the scene, quite roughly, on a piece of Saunders Waterford 140lb (300gsm) Rough paper, indicating the position of the trees with simple lines. To set the lightest values in the picture and an undercoat elsewhere, I applied a loose, varied wash of cobalt blue, yellow ochre and burnt sienna using lots of water and allowing paint to run and fuse freely. I used a size 6 squirrel mop brush to apply the paint quickly and effectively. No great amount of accuracy was needed here, except to make sure I hit the colour and strength of the lightest values that were going to remain throughout the painting
When the starting wash had dried I used a size 4 squirrel mop brush to begin building up the mass of trees with various mixtures of sap green, ultramarine, burnt sienna and brown madder. I used lots of water to make paint run and infuse atmosphere, but I also made the wash stronger in value lower down. Without allowing the painting to fully dry, I continued into the foreground with burnt sienna, yellow ochre and brown madder, cutting out the shape of the track and on the left, the highlights of the wall top. For the hint of grass on the left I simply mixed sap green with a little cadmium yellow. It is interesting to note that all of the painting was covered except for the lightest elements of sky, wall tops, track and light through trees
To create distance in the trees I made some of the nearer ones stronger using sap green, ultramarine and brown madder, once again in various mixes. I used the darkest value in the shadow areas, mixing cobalt blue and brown madder with just a little water for the shades underneath the right-hand trees. I continued into the left-hand side using the same mix. As I painted I sprayed areas with water here and there and occasionally mixed the shapes up with a wet brush. I continued, painting the shadows on the right and adding rich darks using thick ultramarine and brown madder applied to parts of the wall, posts and some tree trunks. I didn’t allow for any drying stages here. Instead, the painting was kept flowing with some areas dry and some remaining damp. Finally, I added the post highlights with neat Naples yellow and the wire with white gouache.
November Mist, watercolour on Saunders Waterford 140lb (300gsm) Rough, (28x 38cm).
Paul Talbot-Greaves teaches watercolour and acrylic painting in workshops and demonstrations to art societies throughout the Midlands and the north of England. He can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website: www.talbot-greaves.co.uk
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