Thursday, 26 January 2017

'Sallandse Heuvelrug' - at the woodlands

Our walks in the Natural Reserve 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' were made through a varied landscape. The marked trails we followed always start at a parking place, most of the times with an information center or information point nearby. We always started out in an area of woodland and at some point we came to the moors and the trail always ended at the starting point, so we re-entered the woods near the end of the trail. We like this variation very much. 
There are not many areas of heath in The Netherlands so we like to visit them.

To understand the structure of the landscape I added a passage I copied from the Wikipedia page about the Sallandse Heuvelrug:

"From the Middle Ages onwards the area was used for grazing by sheep and goat, and the upper layer of the soil was removed to use it as fertilizer for the crop fields. In this period, the area became a heathland because of sand-drifting. In the beginning of the 20th century the state started forestry programs, to prevent this erosion and to produce pine wood. The area is well known for its scenery because of its relatively large heathlands."

The second day of our four days vacation was a very foggy day. The mist did not leave the entire day although at some point the sun was more or less visible through the mist.
The reference picture for this painting was made (by me) at one of those brighter moments. We were about to enter one of the areas of woodland and the heath was a bit further away. On the field behind the path are bushes of cowberries and the foreground is mostly moss and lichen. The birch tree is standing all alone, maybe there have been more in a recent past, although that does nor seem very likely as there were no tree stumps in sight.

This scene is much greener than the ones I painted earlier. The moss, lichen and the cowberry bushes are evergreens, the grass in between and the heath in the distance are brown.
The trees of the woodland are faded away by the fog, as are the bushes in the distance.

For this painting I challenged myself to mix my greens from blue and yellow colours. 
I should have done this years ago, this works much better than mixing the ready made green with brown, blue, yellow or red in order to make them more like the colours of nature.

More information (size, paper and paint used, etc) can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

"Sallandse Heuvelrug' - Twilight

As I told before, we went to our Natural Reserve 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' for a short vacation in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. In the four days we were there, we went hiking for three days. Each day had its own kind of weather and the differences were inspiring us to make lots of photographs. 
The first day we were walking in the late afternoon, just before sunset. We had driven to our destination first and thus it was not really early as we started walking. 
We had chosen a marked trail of about 6 km and because we were making so many photographs, we were not making much progress. 
One of the rules about walking in the Natural Reserves in The Netherlands is that you are free to walk on the paths of a Natural Reserve, but you have to leave before sunset. Because it was winter, we made it just in time.
The sky was clear that afternoon and the colours of the sunset were wonderful. I could not help making some reference pictures for the purpose of painting later - back at home.

As this was a twilight scene, I used my Twilight Colours to paint it. I chose to do this painting on a quarter sheet (a full sheet is 51 x 76 cm, usually I use a half sheet, 38 x 51 cm). The thoughts behind that choice are not easy to explain, usually this is a decision based upon the 'feeling' of my subject and most of the times I make a decision that gives me a nice painting as a result.

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

Sunday, 15 January 2017

'Sallandse Heuvelrug' - crossroad within sight

The mystery of the moors in foggy weather really intrigued me. 
Most of the times when we are hiking I am not the person holding and using the camera, this time I made a lot of reference pictures because I kept seeing things that were inviting me to paint.
As it was not only foggy but also cold we did not stop for sketches, only pictures.

At this point we were walking towards a crossroad - as can be seen by the trees standing there. A bit beyond the crossroad the trees were gone again as if only that point was to be made seen by the trees.
In winter the heather plants are dark and brown, the grasses are golden yellow and the trees are dark because of the moist. At this point the sand was a bit red - not yellow or the grey colour I saw in other spots.
Therefore I could use a limited palette of four colours, something I feel very comfortable about. The haziness caused by the foggy circumstances gives me a good exercise in wet-in-wet painting, creating even softer edges than I normally do. Only the foreground is a bit sharper than the rest of the scene, but I really tried not to overdo that sharpness.
I do not have the ambition to make a photo-realistic painting, I try to paint how it felt to be at that spot, at that moment, in that weather, in that season.
With this watercolour painting I think I am very close to what I wanted to paint.

More information about this painting (size, colours and paper used, etc) and the others I made inspired by the 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' can be found at my website 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sallandse Heuvelrug - the road to.....?

In the mist everything feels a bit different compared to a bright day. Maybe I would not have liked the scenes I painted so much when I had seen them on a clear day, with lots of sunshine and the clouds high above us in the sky.
To find that out, I should revisit the 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' on a sunny day, maybe even in summer.
For now it happened to be foggy and mysterious when we walked that path over the moors and I was inspired to make reference pictures or to ask for pictures to be taken (my husband Peter made this one for me) and to make plans for paintings.

This painting was made after I returned home, it is a larger size than the previous ones I posted (with the 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' for inspiration). 
We were not taking the road I painted, so I do not know where it will end. 
The trees are pine trees, planted about a century ago for wood-production purposes. Many of these pines have already been harvested - the stumps in the foreground are the remains of those trees.
Further away may be more trees, bushes or...? It is hidden by the fog.
The grasses and heather on the foreground are in their winter colours, yellow and brown.

For this painting I used the same colours I did before, I only added a green shade for the pines. 

Working on a larger sheet of paper was somehow easier for me than the small sizes, that is probably because this is my habitual size of paper. And being back in my studio was also very nice.
We have made three walks in the Natural Reserve, so I do have some more pictures to paint from, but as my vacation is over I  don't have the time to paint (and post) daily any more.

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

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Foggy weather on the moors - watercolour painting

That walk over the foggy moorlands of our Natural Reserve 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' was really inspiring me to paint the scenes we saw. 
As I wrote in my previous post, the fog stayed all day, but at some moment a very pale sun came visible - for a short while. I managed to make a nice picture that would serve me as a reference for that moment.
At that time we were at a spot with a little more trees in the neighborhood and several bushes a little further away. The yellow grasses were separated by tracks and patches of dark earth.

I made this watercolour - a small size as we were still in our 'vacation home' - to compare this technique with the charcoal drawing I made earlier.
For this watercolour painting I used the same three colours that were used to make the underpainting for the charcoal drawing. Using French Ultramarine and Vandyke Brown I can make the grey of the foggy sky and the bushes that are further away. The trees close by are made with the same colours, only now a stronger mixture. Gold Ochre is for the wintery grasses, for the fields in the distance made a bit more grey with the Ultramarine.
There were some clouds visible and the outline of the sun is not so strong, this is typical for this kind of weather in The Netherlands.

Once again I had fun painting this scene and it was nice to compare both techniques. 
I still don't know which I prefer - which one I will use in the future may depend on my mood.

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

Monday, 2 January 2017

Foggy weather on the moors - charcoal drawing

The second day of our stay in the Natural Reserve 'Sallandse Heuvelrug' we had foggy weather all day long. Nevertheless we went for a walk on the moors. 
The fog was not too thick, so we could see a nice bit of the landscape around us. 
We took time to make lots of pictures, the atmosphere is really special in these weather conditions. 

This is a mixed media drawing I made in our vacation home, a watercolour underpainting in the colours of the fog and the dried grass that could be seen in this part of the area with a charcoal drawing on the dried underpainting.
With the use of the charcoal I tried to show the bushes and trees that are faded by the mist as well as the foreground of grasses, heather and some small trees.
The result is not as foggy as the reference picture I made, but still the weather conditions can be seen. It has a nice atmosphere. 
Of course I am still experimenting with this mix of watercolour underpaintings and charcoal drawing.

More informations (size, materials used, etc) can be found at my website 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Sunset on the 'Sallandse Heuvelrug'

Last week - between Christmas and New Year's Eve - we went for a short vacation to one of the Natural Reserves of The Netherlands; the 'Sallandse Heuvelrug'.
The next bit of text is information I copied from the English Wikipedia page about the region:
The Sallandse heuvelrug is a  moraine, created in the one but last glaciation, Saalien, 150.000 years ago. During the Holocene forests started to develop, but after the growth of the human population, these forests had been cut. From the Middle Ages onwards the area was used for grazing by sheep and goat, and the upper layer of the soil was removed to use it as fertilizer for the crop fields. In this period, the area became a heathland because of sand-drifting. In the beginning of the 20th century the state started forestry programs, to prevent this erosion and to produce pine wood. The area is well known for its scenery because of its relatively large heathlands.

We had visited this National Reserve only once, so we decided to spend more time here to walk, explore and make pictures. 
The first day of our visit the weather was fine, we had some clouds and sometimes a clear sky. As the sun sets early in winter, we had beautiful views of the colouring of the sky through the branches of the trees. 
The reference picture for this watercolour was made by me.

I painted this watercolour in the evening in our vacation home. Because of that it is a small size and not a very challenging subject. Just a nice little painting to reflect the mood of the afternoon walk we made.
There were more pictures of course, with scenes that need a bit more thought and preparation before I paint them. So there is more to come!

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