Rural landscape is a huge inspiration to me, particularly landscape with lots going on in the foreground. Whether the foreground be tall grasses, a hedgerow, gateway or stone wall, it helps to lead the viewer’s eye into the painting to the distance but remains the main area of interest – the focal point.
My creative process, as ever, involves selecting my starting point – in this case it’s a location watercolour sketch and back-up photograph of wild spring flowers along the banks of Loch Duich in Scotland.
Be inspired by Carole's work with this video before following her demonstration to paint Mountain Pasture.
DEMONSTRATION - Mountain Pasture
My location sketch
I made a light drawing in ink pen and a variety of light-coloured oil pastels and added a few marks to suggest some of the flowers and grasses, then flooded watercolour in, letting the pigments mix on the paper. While the paint was still wet, I used a palette knife to scratch and lift the paint. This sketch takes me right back to that very moment.
Using my location sketch and photograph, I decided on the format and the colours. As you can see, I was making the painting feel warm; ultimately it was about that foreground and how interesting I could make it.
Using modelling paste and a palette knife, I applied texture to the canvas. It was essential to link all the marks. For example, I didn’t want texture just in the foreground – it needed to be present in the sky also. I very often apply texture paste to a canvas before I even know what my composition is; that way there is less likelihood of it looking contrived. The texture needs to dry completely before applying paint – overnight is ideal.
When selecting colours I always begin with three primaries – I know from these I can make any colour in the spectrum, and add another couple of colours depending on the subject. Here it was cobalt blue, quinacridone gold and permanent rose, plus Payne’s grey, Naples yellow and white. I began by applying a mix of permanent rose and quinacridone gold mixed with a small amount of water, using a large short flat brush, to add harmony and warmth to the painting.
Once the canvas was dry, I blocked in the main areas – the sky and distant mountains, the middle ground and some really good darks in the foreground. I used a scumbling technique, scrubbing into the canvas but ensuring I left some of the background colour showing through – I wanted to see some of this colour sparkling through in the finished painting!
I went back to the top of the painting and started again, really thinking about the light source, and started to draw with the brush, making sure everything was in the correct place. The background colour was beginning to become part of the painting and giving it a real glow. It is important to ensure that the layers are dry before starting the next one otherwise you can end up with mud.
More layers were added. At this stage foreground detail is not crucial, it is more important to achieve depth in the foreground, bearing in mind that the details are light upon dark. If painted too soon, they would not stand out. Now the painting looked almost dull in comparison to the earlier stages but that was easily rectified.
After a little more work on the sky and distance and I started adding some colour to the foreground. A mix of quinacridone gold, Naples yellow and some white was applied with the side of a short flat brush; this suggested foreground grasses on the raised parts made by the texture paste.
Using the same colour, I added some water to the mix and spattered into the foreground, creating little jewels of colour.
I added a mix of darks, especially into the light areas, to suggest that the grasses are in front of the landscape beyond, and lots more spattering with various colours including a mix of permanent rose and cobalt blue. To finish off I used a rigger brush to draw in some of the fine lines in lights and darks, not necessarily following the lines of the texture but adding to them. It is all about making marks – marks that will be interpreted by the viewer, holding their attention and letting them be drawn into the painting.
Mountain Pasture, acrylic and texture paste on box canvas, (60x60cm).
I spent some time analysing the marks and tweaking areas where I felt it needed it – like knocking the distant mountain back slightly as it was coming forward too much.
Carole Baker studied at Lichfield School of Art. She is a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, where she regularly exhibits. Carole runs painting workshops and holidays throughout the year and demonstrates for art clubs. www.carolebaker.com
This demonstration is taken from the summer 2019 issue of The Artist
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