This weeks subject at Avon Valley Artists group was 'Shadows'
Not the easiest of subjects to interpret, and we had quite an interesting conversation before we began about the difference between shadows and reflections.
I chose to attempt to paint a sunlit bluebell wood with shadows of the trees cutting across the flowers. I used a piece of 'Cornwall' paper, hoping that the texture of the paper would help to convey the texture of the flowers. I did this initial wash the night before, adding a little salt to increase the interest. Before going to bed, I removed the salt and was quite disappointed in the resulting wash, seen below.
8.00am the following morning found me in the studio with a sheet of Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough paper, trying to get a better starting wash, before leaving for AVA at 9.15pm. I turned the paper portrait style to see if it would give me a better start.
I took both washes with me, and after a bit of friendly consultation decide to stick with the original landscape format. I did think the second sheet was more exciting, but thought the first one was 'safer'. What a coward!
Anyway, having decided, the first thing I did was to add the outline of the trees, using a pale mixture of Burnt Umber, Anthraquinachridone Blue Blue and Quinachridone Rust. I used a straw to blow twiglet shapes across the sky.
The next step was to build up the banks of bluebells using dots of colour, occasionally giving them a light spray to give some merging whilst leaving others as dots.For this I used Ultramarine Violet, Quinachridone purple, Cobalt |Blue and Quinachridone Magenta. I added some green areas between the banks of flowers and finished this stage off with some white acrylic gouache.
At this stage I was quite pleased with the progress.I darkened the tree trunks and the greens on the horizon and it was looking good.
As the subject was 'Shadows' I now needed to brush in the shadows created by the trees across the meadow. I kept the wash quite pale as I was really unsure about how this was going to work. I am disappointed with this final outcome as the shadows are too pale, but am not sure how to rectify the matter without sending the whole thing to a sludge. I will leave well alone and accept that there are not too many shadows cast in the painting!
On looking at the final painting once back in the studio, I was also unhappy by the way two of the tree trunks made a funny arch in the top middle of the painting. As I was using 'Cornwall' paper, I had no difficulty in washing out the offending branches on the right of the 'arch' and lightly touching up the space with a little sky colour.
I am not convinced that I chose the right piece of paper to begin with, but I do now have another wash ready to have a second go at a future date. I will let you know how it turns out if and when I re-visit a 'Bluebell Wood' !