Shadows in an Autumn Landscape 1 of 2

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:



6 thoughts on “Shadows in an Autumn Landscape 1 of 2

  1. With the gouache colours – they are all opaque. Gouache is really an opaque version of watercolour. I guess I could use gouache where I want solid colour and then use watercolour over the top as a glaze. That might work? I asked my mum for some oils paints for Christmas the other day so hopefully I should be able to try the real thing in the new year. It’ll be really exciting! I hope I can tranfer what I’ve learned in gouache to oil.
    I like your leaves picture – especially the colours!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your other post that the little tree looks a bit silly. If this is a realistic picture, then I would suggest that the person who planted the little tree did so to replace one that died previously… perhaps it is in a row with the other. If you come back to that spot next year, the little tree would be bigger and would look more “right”. good work painting it out. I like your picture. sometimes shadows are hard to paint. I like to use solid colours as a base and then a transparent paint over the top. In oils there is a symbol of a fully coloured square or triangle to show it is an opaque colour, or an empty square or triangle to denote a transparent one. I don’t know if it is the same on goache.

    I did a study of colours and forms of autumn leaves in Australia and painted a small canvas using acrylic paints. here is the link.


    Liked by 1 person

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