Wednesday, 15 November 2017

It's time for winter paintings!

Winter will be here soon and with that comes the question about the Christmas Cards of this year. So I start to search the paintings I made last year for a candidate, sometimes with success, this time not. I have painted some nice foggy winter landscapes, but those are not suitable for Christmas Cards.
That meant that I had to paint a suitable winter scene from fantasy. For inspiration I asked my daughter for some guidelines and after her reply I had to start searching for images of gatehouses. Of course I found nothing I could use directly, many gatehouses are not what I was looking for. 

After some thinking this is what appeared in my sketch-book: some small buildings with a gate and a wall, a lane towards the gate and the suggestion of the continuing of that lane behind the wall, snow and lights in one of the buildings and a very small lantern by the gate.
For the colours I started with sepia but gradually I added more for the lights, the roofs and doors. And the shadows on the snow of course. And I added a small shrub of holly close to the building on the right. Look well, it really is there!

At first I was not satisfied with this painting, thinking the outlines of the buildings should be more defined. But looking at it a few days later the scene good as it is. In winter the world can be very grey and everything looks a bit dim on those days. The colour I used for the sky suggest one of those grey days so it is not necessary to alter the outlines of the  buildings.
So I decided to listen to my painting and not change a thing. 

More information about this watercolour painting (materials used, size, availability, etc) can be found at my website 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

View on Fauvillers

We have been walking the first day of our short vacation in The Ardennes. On the Internet we found a walk of 12 km that started in the village of Fauvillers and went downhill, passed along the river Sûre, crossed some more hills, the Forest of Anlier and returned to the village of Fauvillers again.
At this point we were still full of energy, as we had just left the village behind us. Looking back I decided to make a picture of the view we had on the village church and some of the houses. Most of the village is hidden behind the bushes and trees but what is visible is just nice for a painting.
Fauvillers is situated on top of the hill and we had to walk down to the valley of the Sûre.
This is very close to the village, so the hillside is filled with fields where at some points cows were grazing. 

The light was a bit strange that morning. By the sea the sky had been grey all day, due to Sahara sands and dust from forest fires in Portugal and Spain blowing over with an autumn storm. We just had a little bit of the dust and a grey sky in the morning, some of my pictures show a grey sky with a yellow shade, depending on the angle of the camera. Later that day the sun would be really warm and the sky was blue again.
The fields were still green, the bushes and trees are beginning to turn orange and brown.

For my painting I only used yellow and blue colours, with Burnt Sienna for the autumn colours and to mix the grey colours of the buildings. 
As the sky was overcast, there are no strong shadows, only under the bushes and in the uneven parts of the fields some dark areas can be found.

I am still experimenting with mixtures of blue and yellow colours, for this painting I have used a yellow paint I had just bought and had not used before. With every painting I make in this way I am learning and enjoying my decision to 'forget' the ready-made greens more and more.

More information about this watercolour painting (paper and paint used, size,  availability, etc) can be found at my website 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The valley of the Sûre and the Forest of Anlier - my first impressions

We have been on a short trip to The Ardennes, Belguim, to be more precise, to the Forest of Anlier and the Valley of the river Sûre. The weather was great, maybe a bit too warm for autumn but we have been walking in the forest, walking in the valley and I have been taking pictures and most of the evenings were dedicated to painting.

These are small paintings, only A4 size. The circumstances in our 'gîte' were not as good as  in my studio. Most of the times the lights were not very helpful, but I managed to get used to this set-up and made some nice watercolours.

This is the first one I made, and as we had just arrived in the 'gîte' this is the view from one of the windows. The background is the slope of one side of the valley of the river Sûre which is covered with trees, the other one is right behind our 'gîte'. The river is in fact between the fields and the background. 
I was struggling with the lights, the height of the table, the moisture of the air (close to the river) so this painting may be not the best I have ever made, but for a 'warming-up' it is a nice one.

The Forest of Anlier is a piece of land that has been described by Julius Caesar and has remained a forest since these days. We had chosen a walk of 12 km and we have just seen the northern part of the forest. I have been making some nice reference pictures and for the 'first impression' I chose to do a scene with lots of autumn colours and some fallen trees. The sun was shining and the forest seemed to be on fire with all those yellow, orange and red colours!

The next day we started out from the 'gîte' to walk in the valley of the river Sûre. The first part of that walk was following an abandoned railway track and was easy. I made some pictures showing the track and the green valley beside it. This day we returned early, we had some problems with shoes, muscle aches and so on. In the afternoon I stayed in the 'gîte' to paint as my husband decided to discover a bit more of the surrounding landscape - on better shoes. 
This time I painted in daylight and the air seemed less moist than it is in the evenings, so the process of painting was more relaxed than the other days. 

The last day of our vacation we were in tourist mode. We went to visit the town of Schengen, in Luxembourg and as we returned we drove once again through the Forest of Anlier. I asked my husband to stop in a safe place so I could make some pictures. Imagine a road of 10 km or more surrounded by these trees - I just had to have those pics! The scene was still sunny, with lots of shadows from the trees. A lot of leaves have already fallen and the foliage is not as dense as it was a few days ago, so the colours of the trees are lighter. In a few days this autumn splendor will be gone, all leaves on the ground and the trees will be as good as bare. 

Of course I will paint more, using larger sizes of paper and some other reference pictures. These will be done at home, in my studio where I can take all the time I need to complete a painting.

More information about these watercolour paintings (paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Rain is coming!

Autumn in The Netherlands can be a wet season. Wind and rain are normal these days and we usually take either raincoats or umbrellas with us when we go outside.
This was one of those days. We had a family reunion in the old harbor town of Elburg, in the northern part of the Veluwe. The old town is a protected area and outside the old city walls the landscape is rural. On one side is what remains of the once dangerous 'Zuiderzee', the Veluwemeer, a small lake between the 'old' and the 'new' land.

This somewhat overcast view attracted my attention so I made some quick reference pictures before it actually started to rain again. 

It may be autumn yet, not all trees have lost their green colours. There is a lot of yellow and brown visible already, promising more fantastic autumnal splendor to look forward to.

For this watercolour painting I decided to use a quarter of a sheet of paper and a limited palette of blues, yellows and a brown colour. I am getting used to mixing my shades of green from blue and yellow paints and I am more and more satisfied with the results of these mixtures. I just have to keep in mind that I want to use transparent blues and yellows for this and my greens will be nice and transparent too.

More information about this watercolour painting (size, paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunrise in autumn - walking along the railroad

Sometimes I walk to my job having a great view and this time I just had to use the opportunity to make a quick picture with my phone. The picture was not perfect of course but I have made the best of it.

The walking path and bicycle path have a bend in the distance so they don't end in the 'vanishing point'. The bushes on the slope of the railroad were dark and in the shadows so I have only suggested their shapes. At the moment I took my picture I was alone on that walking path so the scene is calm.

I have used my Twilight Colours and added a yellow and a grey-blue for the colours of the sunrise and the deepest shadows. The lines of the lamp posts and the overhead of the railroad are made with a water soluble pencil, that can be applied more subtle when needed. The Twilight Colours can also give nice dark mixtures but that would have been too dark for this purpose. 

I enjoyed painting this and experimenting a bit more with the colours on my palette.

More information about this watercolour painting can be found at my website 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The end of summer - a nice day to walk in our beautiful nature!

Summer has ended rather suddenly this year with storms, rains and cold weather in the early part of September. That is not the way it was in the last years but it does give me time to be in my little studio and paint.
We spent one of the last beautiful afternoons outside.

We went to a small Natural Reserve near the border with Belgium, the "Oude Buisse Heide" near the village of Zundert. This is a nice spot for a walk, we chose a signposted walk of about 4 km and we passed through a lot of different landscapes. I have made several reference photographs for later use and this is the first watercolour painting I have made.

We had been walking in between fields and a part of the heath that gives the Reserve its name. Looking back to where we came from I decided the view was worth a painting and stopped to make several photographs for reference. 
The bushes on the left mark the ending of the heath, the fields on the right are grazed by cattle and have an uneven surface with several kinds of grasses, some flowers and small bushes. The path bends to the right and the different fields are separated by lines of wickets that have some higher grasses growing under them. I think the wires between the wickets are under electrical voltage to keep the cattle inside.
We had a cloudy day and most of the time no direct sunshine, so there were no distinct shadows on the path.

Again I have mixed all the green colours in this scene from yellows and blues. This is getting easy as I am having much more experience - and not to mention much more blues and yellows on my palette.
For the grey colours in the sky I have not mixed a grey using blue and brown, this time I used small amounts of Payne's Grey, just to see if that would give a satisfactory result. For this scene it proved to be perfect, so I will certainly do this again.

More information about this painting (size, paper and paints used, etc) can be found at my website 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Flaming Birch tree

While I was on painting vacation last summer I had sketched an birch tree and decided that day not to use the sketch for a painting. The sketch and the plans I had for it were still on my to-do list, so I have made the painting.
Maybe not exactly as I had planned in summer, but even now it is not so very different from the kind of painting I wanted to create.
The tree was having all of its foliage in summer but I managed to follow the lines of the major branches for the sketch. Now that I have suggested an autumnal tree, I could make the white branches stand out much more.

For the painting I have made a drawing of the outlines of the tree and the major branches and covered that area with colourless masking fluid. Once that was dry I used water and paint to create the background, the foliage and a suggestion of fallen leaves on the ground. I applied two layers of paint to create more intense colours for both the foliage and the dark background. With all paint dry I removed the masking fluid.
After that I started to fill in the shadows and the markings that are so characteristic for the birch trees. I also applied a third layer of paint on the top part of the foliage and the ends of the branches, suggesting the existence of foliage in front of those branches.

Experimenting like this with water, paint and the suggestion of - in this case a birch tree in autumn - is really nice to do. I have found that these experiments make my 'touch' in the more traditional landscapes a bit more relaxed, especially in the suggestions of the background. So every now and then, when I start to feel stressed about painting bushes and backgrounds I will make a few paintings like this. 
And of course when I feel like doing so, because - as I said before - this is fun!

More information about this watercolour painting (size, materials used, etc) can be found at my website