They can’t all be gems.
I love to paint landscapes, but every now and then I get bored and need to do something different.
So today I did something I never did before: I painted a fish.
This was a 27 inch pike I caught last summer.
I could have painted the entire fish, but I chose to focus on just on the head, because that’s the most interesting part.
I love pike. They’re awesome.
They look like gators. They have razor sharp teeth. And they don’t give a rats’ ass…they’re not afraid to attack anything.
They put up a great fight when you hook them, and they’re quite tasty (despite what the walleye snobs might tell you).
They’re also beautiful fish and fun subjects to paint.
I was surprised at the pallete I used to capture this image: red, purple, yellow ochre, sap green, greys, browns, and yellows.
It turned out okay. I’m not displeased.
I think I’ll do more fish.
Next time, it will be speckled trout.
Today, I painted another winter scene from Silverstar Ski Resort.
Normally I’m not so repetitive, and after a few “safe” easy paintings, I’ll usually pick something difficult to challenge myself.
But life’s been difficult enough lately. I don’t need any more challenges. Instead, I just want to paint what I’m passionate about, and right now, that happens to be skiing in British Columbia.
So bear with me while I post another ski painting.
Here’s the scene I picked. It’s from the part of the ski hill known as Attridge.
I choose this scene because I like the blue and white contrast, and the horizon tilting towards the middle. The ski tracks are off-center and seem to go right into the painting, giving a sense of depth. The trees are scraggly and irregular and also off-center. Overall I found the composition of this photo pleasing.
And here’s the actual painting:
The color palette was almost the same as last weeks’. Mostly cerulean blue for the sky and the snow shadows. The trees were Van Dyke brown, mixed with sap green, cobalt blue and Paynes grey.
I deliberately didn’t paint all the trees in the middle, because it would have looked like mud.
I also left out ski tracks on the bottom, because I wanted to emphasize the ski tracks going into the painting, and not the “busy” foreground.
To break up the dark green true hues, I followed my art teachers’ advice, and added a touch of alizarin crimson to the mix, to give a hint of reddish-brown.
One thing about painting snow, is to not be afraid to mix in a few colors. Here, you can see I added violet to the blue, as well as cadmium yellow to warm things up.
Another hint, to make things really jump out of the painting, is to make sharp edges on abrupt color changes.
For example, with the snow clumps:
As well as the edge of the tree-line:
Just when I thought I was finished, my teacher noticed the ski tracks stood out too much. They were overpowering the whole painting.
Soften one of the edges, he suggested.
So I used a wet brush to blur out the right-hand side, so that the blue and white were more blended together. I left the left hand side of each ski track as it was, with a sharp contrast between the blue and white.
The whole thing took me about 60 seconds to do, and it made all the difference in the world.
It’s amazing what these small changes can do.
And that’s one more trick I’ll be remembering for next time.
Here’s a photo from a couple of weeks ago, taken at SilverStar, BC. I couldnt’ resist the full moon rising over the Monashees in the distance.
Of course, I knew I had to paint this. It was on my short list, and I finished it tonight. Here’s the result:
The first thing I did was use a dime to trace a circle for the moon, and cover it with masking compound. I made sure to put the moon off-center, about one third from the right
I set the horizon about one third from the bottom, leaving two-thirds sky. When in doubt, always use the one-third/two-third rule. That makes for good composition that’s pleasing to the eye. Dunno why, but people like it.
Next, I made a wet-on-wet wash for the sky. With cadmium yellow/orange on the bottom, cerulean blue in the middle, and violet/cerulean blue on the top.
I painted in the mountains in the background, leaving some white spots, using a mixture of brown, blue and purples. It really didnt’ matter what the background was…it was just filler for the trees in the background. I added just a hint of light pink for the snow-capped mountains.
The icing on the cake was painting the trees. I used a combination of sap green, Van Dyke brown, Paynes Gray and Cobalt Blue. I chose the dark pigments to make the trees stand out from the lighter background.
I was holding my breath when I painted the thin branches at the tree tops. You do one of these wrong, you make the line too thick, you can ruin the whole painting.
Spruce trees are really fun to paint with a rigger brush, which has long and narrow bristles. They wobbles and bend as you paint, giving the branches a loose, spontaneous look.
The secret is not to overdo things. Paint what you need to, and get out. These trees probably only took ~15 minutes.
The final touch was removing the masking compound, leaving a pure white disk of the moon. That was too harsh against the violet background, so I wetted the paper, and just barely dabbed a touch of yellow onto it.
I did this twice, and it gave the moon just enough of a yellow shade to soften its look. It looks a bit mottled, which is what I wanted.
Here’s a simple Northern Ontario scene, just the lake, trees and sky. The kind I’ve done time and time again.
But I like painting these scenes. I just love the scraggly black spruce trees of the boreal forest. It reminds me that I’m “up there”, far away from the big cities and shopping malls. And that the fish will soon be biting.
The painting was not so simple, though. Decievingly difficult, actually.
The sky wasnt’ too bad. But the reflection in the water were tricky. The ripples in the foreground made hard edges, which is difficult to capture on watercolor without making the painting look harsh.
I tried to paint the ripples on, but it was on the verge of looking like crap. Then my art teacher suggested a trick:
Instead of adding pigment to make the water ripples, take it away. Lift the paint off with a brush, and leave a few white areas. But not too many.
It worked. I’m reasonably happy with how it turned out.
And it helped salvage the painting.