Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bird sanctuary - 2; an experiment with a limited palette

We returned from our last walk on the 'Kalmthoutse Heide'  with a lot of photographs that can be used as reference for my paintings. 
To prevent me doing the same thing over and over again, I usually start challenging myself after the first two or three paintings and here I set myself a double challenge.

I chose to work with a limited palette of only three colours. The three are selected carefully, when placed in a colour wheel made up of 12 colours, they are in the shape of an equilateral triangle. So they have a natural balance.
I have worked with this palette before and this is great for painting landscapes.

The second challenge I set myself is the high position of the horizon. 
Usually I have my horizon positioned low, like the old masters did. So now I have a lot of land to paint and very little sky.

For this double challenge I decided to work on a smaller piece of paper than usual.

The scene is the bird sanctuary I painted before, but this time a bit to the left from my first painting. There is no real path, just some parts with moss, low grass and sand that suggest there might have been a path in the near past. The tree is waiting for warmer weather to let the leaves come out and the bushes are doing the same.
In the distance are evergreen trees and bushes, in front of them are traces of other paths visible in the moss and grasses.

My limited palette may have a natural balance, it is hard to get really dark values with these three colours without making a mess of my painting. So I stopped before that could happen and decided to suggest a bit more than I did in my latest paintings.

I really enjoyed working on this painting and the lessons I learned will be used to improve the next ones.

More information (colours used, size, etc) can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A wider view - Kalmthoutse Heide

This scene attracted my attention the moment we were walking on top of the hill and looking towards the bend in the path we were following. I asked my husband Peter to take a reference picture for me, as he is a bit taller than I am and could get a wider view.
As we walked towards the bend in the path I took another reference picture, which I used for the charcoal drawing I have already posted.
At this point the sand path is very broad and filled with footsteps of the people who walked there before us. Around the bend the path is more narrow, between the hills and dunes that give this part of the area its name: Vossenbergen (Fox mountains).

This was springtime, the grasses and mosses are green already, a nice bright colour. 
As the area is sandy, there are mostly evergreen pine trees and heather bushes. These heather bushes are not just brown, their colour has more than a hint of violet. In a few weeks they will be green too.
Our walk started under a bright blue sky but as time passed, some clouds appeared. 

Again I have tried to show the beauty of this Natural Reserve in my painting. 
I am not the first painter that is attracted by this area and I hope I will not be the last.

More information about this watercolour painting (size, materials used, etc) and the other paintings I made inspired by this Natural reserve can be found at my website 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Testing my new Tinted Charcoal pencils

A charcoal drawing can be a bit too much black (and white) when you want to draw a landscape. So I have been experimenting with techniques to introduce some colour to a charcoal drawing. I was really happy with the results I got using a watercolour underpainting on watercolour paper but sometimes that is not what I am looking for.
Then, browsing on the internet I found Tinted Charcoal pencils. In the instruction videos they are used for the whole drawing, but I just want to add them to my charcoal. 
I decided to give these pencils a try to see how they can be used in my artwork.

This is the result of my first attempt: the scene on the Kalmthoutse Heide was back-lit, so the silhouettes are strong and dark, perfect for a charcoal drawing. I added the colours of the grasses on the left with my pencils, and very little pine-green in the tree. So most of the drawing is made with my charcoal stick and I added the colours later.
Working with these pencils is different than working with a stick of charcoal, the marks can be blurred with my fingers, but not so easily as the charcoal. Of course that is because they are pencils and I just have to get used to them. I have got the tin with all 24 colours, so I have plenty of opportunities to experiment with my new pencils.

More information about this charcoal drawing and all the watercolour paintings I made inspired by the Kalmthoutse Heide can be found at my website 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ssssh - bird sanctuary!

One of my favourite places to go for a hike is the Kalmthoutse Heide. This  Natural Reserve is situated partly in The Netherlands, partly in Belgium and the management is shared by several organisations.
The Kalmthoutse Heide is very close to the place we live so it is easy to go for a walk when the weather turns out to be nice. There are many signposted walks and I think we have explored them all by now. Of course we can walk there all seasons and see the changes. We also started to walk the pathways anti-clockwise for a change in perspective.

Some areas are closed for public during the breeding season. The reference picture for this painting was taken looking into one of those areas while I was standing behind the fence. The paths that can be seen are forbidden to walk on from March until July.
The birds were not always to be seen, but they made their presence very clear on this warm spring day.

The heather plants are still brown, many of the grasses are dry and yellow, but green moss and grass is showing itself already.
Most of the trees and bushes have started to unfold their leaves, this pine tree is having fresh green needles amongst the older ones.
The trees and bushes in the background are all pine trees, this part of the Kalmthoutse Heide is sandy and relatively dry.

I have tried to paint the beginning of springtime and I hope I have succeeded.
For this painting I have been ignoring my ready-made greens and mixed the colours I wanted using blue, yellow and some sienna or violet for the shadow parts.
This is a nice challenge for me because not all 'blue' and 'yellow' mixtures make a nice, transparent green. But still, despite the challenge part, I really am happy with the mixtures I have now and think the painting results are better than with the mixtures I get using the ready-made sap green and other greens.

More information about this painting and the ones I have made during the past years inspired by the Kalmthoutse Heide can be found at my website