Field and Forest

Here are a couple of older paintings I did a few years ago.

One is an acrylic painting of the ‘Forest of Dean’.  I went there in my late twenties and was really seduced by it’s beauty.


The second is a watercolour of a barn owl flying low over a field one summer evening.  It was one of the first watercolours I ever tried to paint.  This was also inspried by real life.  I once saw a barn owl flying low like this just a few feet from me in the golden evening light of Cambridgeshire.  It was more beautiful than I can say.

Here’s the picture…



Lesson 3.1 – Colour Families – part 2

Today I finished my ‘Green Colour Family’ picture.

First I painted flat colour (which wasn’t as flat as I wanted becuase I was trying to use dried out paint):



Then I added shadows and highlights to this mid-tone starting point.  I was aiming for a surreal slightly abstract look with smooth transitions between different tones and sharp divisions between objects.    Here’s how it turned out:


Its not how I saw it in my mind and I’m surprised at how yellow the green/yellow sky looks.  I wonder if my camera adjusted the colour balance?  (I’m pretty sure it’s not set up to do that.  I keep it on ‘P’ mode which means than I am required to make all my adjustments manually.  My dad taught me to use an SLR when I was young – so I still work to those kind of ideas.)

Also, oddly enough, the trunk of the tree, which was less smooth than I was aiming for, looked better to me in the end than the stuff which ended up as smooth as I’d been planning.


As you can see the owl, which is my focal point, has some red mixed in to it’s colour.  This breaks my rule about using only shades of green, but I thought that it would make him stand out.

I called the painting ‘Greenhills‘.

Lesson 3.1 – Colour Families – part 1

Today I decided to try to paint a picture using only the green colour family (only shades of green).  I decided my definition of green can go from ‘almost blue’ to ‘almost yellow’ since green is a secondary colour anyway.  I also wanted a focal point which did use (as part of the colour mix – not on it’s own) a bit of red.  I was hoping that having this red hue mixed into this one object would make it stand out.  (My ‘object’ is another owl – sorry – I just love those little feathered friends.)

So I began with a sketch:


Then I began to lay down flat colour.  I was using a gouache method called ‘The Mid-Tone Method’ where you paint the middle tone and then darken and lighten that later to give texture and form.


It was really odd using a yellowish/green for the sky.  On the palette it looked really too green for sky but against the more green greeens it looked yellow.  I didn’t realise that colour could change with context to such a significant extent.


Another experiment I’m doing at the moment is that I’m seeing how gouache responds to being dried out and reworked on the palette.

Here’s my palette:


I found this worked perfectly for watercolour paints.  I thought it would work well for gouache since it reactivates so easily but I’m finding that it only works well when I want to use the gouache in a dilute form like you would with watercolour.  For the flat colours I needed it to be just a little bit thicker than I could easily mix from the dried out paint.  This is a pain because the flat colour I wanted looks less flat.  It probably also means that, long term, I’ll need to move to a different palette system to work with gouache.  I think I’m going to go for a paper palette since it’s nice an easy to clean up.  As you can see (in the partially completed painting above) the paint is not as flat as I wanted.

I’ll finish it tomorrow…    🙂


A Golden Barn Owl

Having played around with a barn owl pastel drawing yesterday my dreams were full of owls. (It didn’t help that I was listening to the audiobook of J. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ before going to sleep and Ron’s tiny owl ‘Pig’ was buzzing around the main characters like crazy.)  In the dream I painted a beautiful Barn Owl in acrylics using just blues and browns with some gold highlights.  Although this post is getting published on a Friday I tend to work a few days ahead of my blogs so for me it’s Saturday.   I don’t normally paint on Saturdays but  I really wanted to have a quick go at the picture in my mind before it disappeared.  So I made a sketch:


And then decided to paint it in watercolour because that’s much quicker and easier than acrylics (less cleaning up).  However, in the dream I used gold highlights and I only have gold paint in acrylic – so, for the first time, I made a painting using two types of paint – watercolour and acrylic.  This is the gold plaint I used:

gold paint

And this is the way it shines when the light hits it:


Here is the final painting: