Painting Trees On A Gouache Painting Of A Curlew – This is part 2 of a continuing series documenting the development of my gouache painting of a Far Eastern Curlew bird and a landscape in Siberia. The trees on the mountains in the background were not painted properly in the first post.
Correcting The Trees on the Mountain
In this post I’ll document the improvement and explain how I do things. The trees originally did not look right. The trees which were spruce trees, were sparse and just did not look correct. To make the correction, I first painted over the old trees by mixing a blue color that matches the background. Next I begin drawing the outline of each individual tree. On the left is a detailed close up and on the right are the beginning of the new trees with the entire painting as a whole. I want to make sure that the my new technique is working so I finish the lower left portion of the mountain to make sure that I am satisfied before wasting time doing the whole mountain just to realize that it still doesn’t look right. Once I am satisfied, I proceed to apply the same technique that was done in the lower left hand corner of the mountain to the entire mountain.
Using Glass Palettes to Mix Paint on
Because I like to draw with a brush (similar to pen & ink), I mix my gouache paint with a lot of water. To save money and time, I use a piece of glass for my palette with a sheet of white paper underneath. I like mixing my paint on glass because glass is hard and smooth which is the type of surface you need if you are going to mix your colors with a lot of water. Also, glass will never wear out. I have several sheets of glass with a different set of colors on each one. Pictured left is my mountain colors palette.
New Colors, New Trees
On this particular sheet of glass I have my mountain background blue color, my spruce tree outline and shape color and my spruce tree highlight green. Using a liner brush, I apply the highlight green color to the outline of each tree on the mountain. Compared to the first post, the trees on this mountain are a big improvement. It was worth the time and effort to mix more paint to paint over everything and do all over again.
Protecting the Finished Gouache Surface with Paper
You’ll notice in the photos that show my brush technique, there is always a piece of paper underneath my hand. That is to prevent the oils that are present in skin from coming in contact with the painting. The final thumbnail on the right shows the finished spruce trees on the mountain. In the next post, we’ll work on the grass in the meadow.
Beginning a Painting in Gouache – This is the first part of a continuing series documenting the development of my gouache painting, Far Eastern Curlew Wading In A Stream In Siberia. This painting features Far Eastern Curlews (birds) and a mountainous Siberian landscape. It initially began as a rough sketch. After painting with acrylic paint for years, I recently made the switch to gouache paint. Having not painted landscapes, trees or grass with gouache, I made what had intended to be a practice sketch. I don’t usually photograph practice sketches or monitor their progress.
The result of this practice painting had turned out much better than I anticipated. When I saw that this painting had potential, I decided to start photographing the progress. Having a great love for all things Siberia (mountains, rivers, wildlife) I composed a typical Siberian landscape with a Far Eastern Curlew (bird) wading in a stream. The Far Eastern Curlew is a wading bird native to eastern Russia and parts of China. The paper is 18″ X 24″ Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper. If you look closely at the edges, you can see clear packing tape holding the edges to my drawing table to minimize warping. At this stage of progress, the stream is finished and most of the grass. The mountains and trees still need work. I will document that portion of work on the painting in the next post.
He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness – In this post, I’ll explain a general step by step for creating the pen & ink and watercolor artwork, ‘Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness’. The paper that was used for this project was Strathmore’s 18″ X 24″ 400 series Watercolor paper. After sketching out the celtic border, and the composition of the scene using a 2H pencil and a kneaded eraser, I determine a width for the border. From there I begin drawing the knotwork while trying to find a pattern that will enhance the landscape. The ‘knots’ need to be properly spaced vertically and horizontally so they fit together like a puzzle. Using a 1.20mm Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pen, circle template and french curve, I draw and ink the border. Unlike painting, I always ink the celtic border first. When I am painting with gouache, I paint the border last.
Always use only Koh-I-Noor inks for your Rapidograph pen. Once the celtic border is inked, I continue the pencil drawing of the composition, adding more detail. Once the pencil drawing is complete, I begin the ink drawing using a crow quill pen with india ink. Pictured below is the crow quill pen I’ve been using since 1980. It is a Koh-I-Noor No. 127 ‘Made in Germany’ nib holder. The nib I use is a Speedball 22B.
The drawing of the landscape is always inked using a crow quill pen because you can make your lines with various line widths. More pressure will give you a thicker line while less pressure will give you a thinner line. I only use the Rapidograph for the border and the crow quill for drawing the landscape or composition. Once both the pencil drawing and the border have been inked, I begin adding the watercolor. For this project, I used Windsor & Newton watercolor pigments. For brushes I use Robert Simmons White Sable Rounds, sizes 2, 4 and 6. The title of this painting is based on Bible scripture from Psalms 107:33, ‘He Turneth Rivers Into A Wilderness…’. And here is the finished artwork: