I wanted to have another go at working on my shadow colours today. I am, yet again, overwhelmed with the colours of the trees this autumn. I’ve been tramping through a local wood recently trying to find the home of what I think is a tawny owl I heard hooting during their mating season earlier this year. But I’ve found myself constantly caught in wonder at the colour and shape and form of the leaves. So I thought I’d try to paint an autumn landscape. I want it to be slightly unreal and otherworldly, but to use the colours I’ve seen so much in the last month. I began with an A3 sketch of an autumn landscape:
Then I used a watercolour technique with dilute gouache paint for the sky and dabbed out the clouds with kitchen roll.
Next I painted the background:
Again I struggled for control over my colour. I had intended not to use greens at all – just the colour range from yellow to red and including browns, but my brain seems to default to colours I have, myself, seen in the hills. I find it really really hard to break away from the exact memories of the things I’ve seen. I always knew that the mild autism I have makes me quite literal, but I thought this was just something which affected my language. Now I can see that it also affects the way I think visually. It’s something I’m going to have to work on in terms of my art. While I love photorealistic art in terms of the ability of an artist to absolutely reproduce something perfectly, we kind of have camera’s for that nowadays. Also, less realistic art that I’ve seen makes me feel in ways I don’t always understand. It’s this unspoken visual language that I want to learn but I have to somehow break away from painting like some kind of android and learn to paint from my heart as much as from my eyes and memory. (If that makes any sense.)
In terms of my task to paint the shadows todayI did manage to get the shadows in a darker shade than the non-shadowed sections of the same hue but I didn’t manage to reduce the chroma and make them look more grey. It’s not because I don’t know how to do this with the paint, but because in my mind’s eye the shadows were not greyer than the non-shadow colour. This lesson for me is just an experiment to see what shadows done using the method in my painting book look like but some part of my unconscious mind doesn’t see it that way. I never realised how much of this painting malarky involves my unconscious self. Perhaps it’s because when I was painting this one I was still feeling a little unwell so my willpower was down a bit? I will have to work some more on this shadow technique in another picture once I’ve finished this one.
My next job was to paint the foreground. I did think about changing the mountain colours and that of other places where I’d used greens to reds to keep to my original plan but I do quite like the mountains so I decided to let that go. To paint the trees in the foreground clearly without the paint behind making too much of a difference I painted the whole area for them out in white. Although all the paint underneith will still reactivate when I paint over the top, having the white in between the foreground and background colours should allow me to seperate foreground and background more easily.
This ‘painting out’ is the furthest I got today – more tomorrow: