Tuesday, February 2, 2016

in four steps

Landscape Study VII
watercolor
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This scene comes from the coastal marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry. I love the way the water in the marshes often mirrors the sky giving the landscape there a dreamy quality.

A little while ago a reader asked whether I sketched my compositions in pencil before going in with paint. The short answer is no. I just start in with paint. It is only with a complex image, or one that I feel requires more accuracy to the forms, do I sketch it in pencil first. However, I often find that having pencil lines, no matter how miminal, will cause me to tighten up with my painting. One of my goals with these little landscape studies if to paint more intuitively, with more emphasis on expression and less concern for detail. It is something that I hope to carry over into larger works as well.
To demonstrate, I snapped photos of the painting above during four stages to completion. Here is the first wash where I blocked in the major shapes and lifted areas for the clouds in the sky. There are still bits of the white paper showing here and there. I do like to get the sky established first as that has so much influence on the landscape.
Here you can see my photo reference, which is actually a cropped view from a larger photo. For this series of studies I want to keep the compositions fairly simple, so I zero in on the essence of a scene. And at this stage I began to establish some of the middle and darker values by defining the trees at the horizon and the edge of the marsh grasses. I also gave the sky a little more definition with another wash to deepen the blues.
This step shows where I went another step darker with the darkest values in the composition as well as added another wash to the water where the colors are more saturated, and was careful to save some of those white bits at the water's edge. I also defined the marsh grasses with a rich golden orange.
At this point all that remained was to articulate the grasses in the foreground. I used the same reds and browns to restate some of the cooler darks of the grasses at the water's edge as well and pulled the reflected grasses down into the water. It was here that I realized my grasses in the foreground needed a size adjustment. In my photo reference they are nearly the same size, so I brought the clump of grasses in the bottom right corner a little closer to the viewer by making them a bit larger.

And there you have my process for painting these little landscape studies. Each image presents its own challenges and I learn something new with each new painting. So as I move from one to the next, my process evolves a little as well. Which is all part of the journey!


5 comments:

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

thanks for sharing :) great reflection in the water :)

Ann said...

Thank YOU, Jennifer! It's good for me too, to break things down now and again and examine my process :-)

Celia Blanco said...

I really enjoy seeing and reading about your process. Gorgeous rich colors!!

SusanA said...

I love seeing your process here, Ann. Your studies are so beautiful. My husband and I visit the Lowcountry at least twice a year, and your paintings really evoke the colors and light of that part of the coast.

Ellen Read said...

Thanks for pointing me to this. As a non-artist I look at it and marvel at the thought and layers and planning. Reminds me of how Ken composes music.

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