Today's lesson was quite different from yesterday's. It was more structured and required a lot more concentration.
Size and Paper:
Quarter sheet of 140 lb. cp Arches paper, 11.25"x15"/28 cm x 38 cm
Winsor & Newton Prussian Green
Draw a simplified form of a tree as tall as your watercolor support on a piece of tracing paper. It should be fairly full for the first stage with several branches along its length. When you are satisfied with its shape, cut it out. This is your template for the forest.
Draw a small hill or ground shape across the foreground of your paper several inches high. This is where your first two or three trees will be placed (depending if you choose vertical or horizontal layout).
Place the tree toward the right side of the paper near the top of the ground area you just drew. Trace around it with a pencil.
Flip the template over and place it to the left side of the paper. Trace around it. Only one tree's branches should be in front of the other tree's so decide which one is in front and draw the branches that cross each other accordingly.
Time to get your brush wet. Use a 1.5" flat or large round brush to apply a pale wash of whatever color you are using all over the page with vertical brush strokes. While the paint is still damp, spatter paint over the tree trunks with a toothbrush. Dry with a hairdryer.
Make a large puddle of the paint you are going to use for the entire painting and paint around the trees and branches. Leave the ground around them the color of the initial wash, leaving some grass shapes along the top. Dry the paper as above.
Trim your template to make the tree slimmer. To create a feeling of depth, the trees must get smaller and slimmer as they recede into the forest.
Draw another ground shape or hill three or four inches above the first one and the two front trees.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4, adding trees between the front ones you've already painted.
With the same mixture of paint from the first trees, paint around both the second and first rows of trees. The paint gets progressively darker as you add layers of trees and multiple washes.
Repeat Step 8 for a third row of trees.
Draw more trees between the front two rows, making the trunks slimmer and varied. Intertwine the branches with those from above. At this stage I found it easier to draw the trees freehand keeping the same general shape as the template.
Again paint around all the tree shapes. Here is where you have to really begin to concentrate as you paint the shapes between the branches. It gets a little complicated along about now.
Some people stopped at this point with three rows of trees, but I went ahead and added one more row of small trees and another ground layer way back in the forest.
I went in with a small brush and added soft shadow lines to separate some of the overlapping branch shapes and define them. You can see it in the very first row where the branches from the left tree overlap those of the right tree. I did the same thing throughout the painting.
This was a very different experience from yesterday's painting. It will appeal to those who like detail work a lot and yet you still get a painterly result.
We discussed various motifs you could use and came up with the idea of an aquarium with kelp leaves and various fish or a cityscape at night with tall buildings and lighted windows. Any other suggestions?