The really hot weather has now moved on and the fresh rain and cooler temperatures have seen green become the predominant lush colour. As well as that on a very cheery note birdlife and wildlife is everywhere and there's a real atmosphere of the gardeners winged and crawling friends becoming much more industrious, including biting me. Its sunny right now a warm 21C here in Brinscall with a mild fresh breeze. Above are banks of pale cream and light grey clouds travelling Eastwards stretching in long long lines from North to South.
A gallery owner told me a few years ago that art buyers never bought green paintings, Im sat here pondering on that thought as I try to unscramble all the different greens in front of me. Ive made life harder by bringing out the wrong watercolour box. My garden watercolour set has loads of different yellows blues greens and mauves that make an eclectic array of shades and tones. But having got up from my little camp stool to answer the phone, make coffee, answer the front door to the postman and become side tracked by my email pinging on the ipad, there's no way I'm going to get up again.
At the latest demo I did I was asked how to tackle a garden painting by a lady who did not like to travel far from home but who wanted to paint outdoors. So here are a few easy notes Restricting your palette has a positive to it, I had to be more thoughtful about tone and brushmark in my small A5 sketch book. There's a simple pleasure in sketching and making art outdoors, but be warned if you think that you can go and sit on your bottom and get it right straight away your in for a rocky ride. Looking doesn't come naturally, well only to the super gifted. You have to train your eyes consciously to look and control your vision of what's around you. If you can stand on a high point and take a look at a view. Try and stand so that the light is sideways onto your subject matter. It really helps if its a nice sunny day with a low sun. Shadows and bright areas will be uniform and create lines between you and your subject.In front of you will be a mass array of tangled shapes and trillions of verdant hues. Over this will be a pattern of light and dark divide into blocks maybe squares maybe triangles maybe arches. Next take a look at the high ground or hedgerow or wall or rooftops. The dark line or squares create an horizon line for your sketch that may be straight or broken by taller plants or trees. Concentrate on finding three areas of interest that are formed by a fork in a tree, a dark curve of a bush meeting a light straight path and plot where these intersect. Mark these points or intersections, don't join them up just yet or better still ever.
You may be able to pick out some interesting geometric shapes and meeting points in the image above, straight lines and curves abound as does bright shade. Its a somewhat overgrown path in my rear garden where rocks, plants and brass lanterns find a changing jumbled home.
The overgrown cracks in the old paving make for soft lines that keep a constant geometric shape against the tall plants in the bedding as well as the planters and rocks. Once you have made a start on your drawing and feel that its a third complete stop at that point and take hold of your brush and a simple primary colour palette. Use the brush like your pencil or drop into your sketch blobs or shapes. Keeping it as loose as you can. Remembering which is your coffee and which is your woter pot. Coffee tastes good and also acts as a nice raw sienna whereas the water pot tastes awful and leaves a colour like mud. Give me coffee anytime. That reminds me its time for some more coffee. I will also prepare three boards for the next stage. I use 30x30cmx3mm board covered with a few layers of white emulsion coarsely brushed on to give texture marks and interest. The white paint incidentally which reflects colour back out to the viewer. Finally I add a wash of scarlet red acrylic I blob a little on the board and then use plenty of water to spread it out. It doesn't matter if it blotches or runs, it all adds interest. (Well within reason). Im going to go and do that now. My next blog will move us onto a basic plein air oil painting in the garden. Blogging and chatting about making art is great with the ipad as I can stay in the environment that I wat to talk about. Great fun.