Over the weekend a friend posted a series of photographs on Instagram taken during a woodland walk. It’s funny how an image grabs you one day that might not on another day.
On this particular occasion, one of the main appeals was that I needed a subject that I’d be able to sketch out quickly as I was pushed for time! It’s rarely the best reason for choosing a subject but sometimes needs must.
After sketching this out very loosely, I ran a fine dryish brush stroke of masking fluid up the right hand edges of the two adjacent trees, towards the left hand side of the painting. I also splattered and splashed some masking fluid across the foreground. This was to preserve some white of the paper for highlights and bright foliage to enable me to paint the everything else with a greater sense of controlled abandon than if I was having to preserve these areas by painting around them.
When I’ve considered views like this before, I’ve often got caught up in how to convey the details without getting caught up in the details. On this occasion however, I painted with pace and energy, building up from a very light and soft first wash, to some much more expressive dry brushtrokes with much darker pigment.
Finally, I removed the masking fluid and just touched in a light brushstroke or two of colour, just some light red up the two tree trunks and a vibrant mix of green on the foreground foliage to indicate where the light was hitting.
I was really pleased with how this turned out and how the painting ‘reads’ overall. Usually, when I finish a painting, it stays on view for a few days before I take it off it’s stretcher and put it away somewhere. This just gives me time to stand back from it, to see in different light conditions and reflect on which bits work and which I think I could improve on.
I’ve really enjoyed having this one out for the past few days. It’s definitely one that works better from a distance than up close, but I think because of the tonal range and strong contrasts, it works and reads well in a wide range of light conditions.
It was only midway through painting this that it brought back memories of a series of photos that took a few years ago. My preferred cycle route to work takes me through a forest and one morning, as the sun was surfacing beyond a distant treeline, I stopped to take some photos of the light streaming through the forest (at least this is how I remember it!)
I recall that at the time, I wanted to try to paint the scene, but just wasn’t quite sure how to paint it. Having just painted this view, I’m sorely tempted to go back through my archives to see if I can find these photos.
An invitation to participate in the ten day challenge
I’m not really sure what the origins of the 10 day challenge are but, on Monday I received an invitation on Instagram to participate from David Whitehead, who is a wonderful landscape.
The premise of the challenge is to post a painting which, as I understand it, can be old or new, every day for ten days. The only restrictions is that there shouldn’t be any description or any hashtags and that each day you post, you should nominate/invite another person to participate.
By the time you read this, I may already have started this little challenge… the most challenging aspect of which seems to be deciding what images to share, and who I might also invite to participate!