vrijdag 13 april 2012

The last 11

Well yes, 11 more colours to go before the drawing was complete. I took a red violet lake pencil to fill in the damp leafy path between the trees, while raw umber and ivory black served for the smaller lighter and shadowy patches. The trees in the background needed to be kept vague and I wanted to  suggest distance so here I used the red violet lake pencil again, making sure to add lots of colour nearer the ground for the denser undergrowth and keeping it light nearer the sky. It was important not to draw clearly outlined trees in the background so as not to draw attention away from the main tree in the foreground. Leaving open areas of sky was also important, so as not to make the drawing too dense - really in the spirit of "less is more", to let the natural light in and bring things to life. I think in drawing and in painting, the greatest mistake is often in applying too much pencil or paint, rendering the work solid and "lifeless". It is essential to find a balance, to know when to stop.

Now my attention jumped back to the main tree. Using hard strokes I applied olive green to the mossy area down the left side of the trunk. Using lighter strokes I used the same colour on the trunks of the trees to the left. The path needed darkening so here I used some burnt umber.

At this point I had been drawing for 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is usually about my limit for one sitting, for two reasons really, the first being that "by-now-I-want-to-run-away-again-because-this-drawing-is-never-going-to-amount-to-anything" feeling, the second, I find from experience, that it pays not to do too much at once so as not to "over draw", as I mentioned earlier. Plus, when I do return to the drawing I return with a fresh eye.

This photo shows where I left off.

A couple of days later I sat down to complete the drawing. Between sittings I had a sudden urge to make Peruvian thread and wire earrings (as you do!) and have described all that in a previous blogpost.

But now it was time to get the drawing finished and so I brandished my flesh pink pencil (weird choice? We've had that conversation!) and applied it generously to the main tree trunk, also over the green areas, just to tone things down. Using gunmetal grey I made some vertical strokes, cross-hatching for the splits in the bark. These I emphasized with ivory black, adding more marks and splits. I then used silver grey over the purple areas in the path to create more shadow.

The area around the base of the second tree (on the left) needed some grass. For the darker parts I used mineral green and for the lighter areas water green. Then I made strokes using brown ochre, lemon cadmium, jade green and olive green. I was aiming for damp, partly withered grass here and so didn't want it to appear too bright.
For the leaves on the ground I applied copper beach, followed by more red violet lake to emphasize the path and background trees, making these darker towards the ground. Shadows in the leaves were created with burnt umber.

Again, out came the Chinese white - a layer over all the leaves. It's all looking a bit ugly at this stage, but the next layer of colour will (hopefully!) improve things.

The lower part of the tree on the left needed some brown ochre with flesh pink further up the trunk. Notice when drawing trees that not only is there usually a side of the tree which is damp and often covered in moss and lichens, but towards the bottom of the trunk there is often more discolouration, while the bark higher up is fresh and dry.

But back to the leaves on the ground! Using gunmetal grey I made dots and squiggles amongst the leaves, again trying not to be too precise here to maintain a vagueness. I did the same with mars black (a softer black than ivory black), putting more pressure on the pencil in the lower left (nearest) corner.
I used an eraser to rub out a few patches of light on the path and create a more natural look. Then I used light violet in the background and some chocolate brown in the leaves.

Finally, satisfied with the background, I added some finishing touches to the main tree by applying some fir green and olive green to the moss, particularly close to the left side of the trunk. It took about another 50 minutes (3 hours in total), but there you have it - there are 22 colours in the woods!

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