(Cross-posted from my wiki @ [link] )
The Solo Tree Project was begun 2012-06-13 in class.
The value study started out in one direction, but because of what happened during the painting of the mid-values, it ended up going in quite another!
I mixed equal parts of French Ultramarine and Quinn Burnt Orange fresh from the tubes into a well in my palette. These two make a lustrous black, much better than using Payne's Grey or even Black from the Prang palette.
I started with the darkest blacks, the tree trunk and branches, which is unusual for a value study as you are supposed to go from the lightest values to the darkest values. I decided since the trunk and branches were going to be central to the structure of the painting to start with them instead.
Next I moved on to the lightest values in the leaves. Instead of following the photo in this case, I made quite different strokes, thin and elongated, rather than a more leafy approach (which you'll see in the colour version below).
Moving on from there to the mid-values, I started with the ground square from below the tree up to a mid-point in back of it, doing a gradiated wash, darkest in front, lightest in back. I didn't try to make it an even gradation, as I wanted there to be some interest in the field. I also did not try to stick to the lines of the square, wanting to free it up some.
From there, I moved on to the mid-tone area in the leafy part of the tree itself. As you can see above, the QBO started to separate from the French Ultramarine and move away from the wash. The brush was very wet, which I think is what caused this. It is also likely I had not mixed the paint very thoroughly. But the result is really interesting and I like it quite a lot!
Work In Progress: Colour Version of Solo Tree
Sky and Ground
(Apologies for the out-of-focus image.) Changing the original photo's setting, I put the solo tree into a park-like setting, with open sky above and a grassy field below. The sky was a gradated wet-on-wet wash of Cerulean Blue, darker and the top than at the bottom.
I had inverted the paper, so the top was facing me, and was propped up on a chunk of kneadable eraser. This let me drop the Cerulean Blue in and let it seep down the page to where I'd stopped the wash. I love working this way, just letting the paint run where it will, as it will.
I blotted some areas in the upper sky to give some faint cloud impressions. I tried to keep the majority of the tree's leave portion from getting the wash, but let a little go on.
Turning the paper back to normal upright position, I started with the ground area. I mixed Phthalo Green with New Gamboge and just a touch of QBO to start, and started filling in the grassy area, wet on dry. I kept some areas clear, and started to paint over with just New Gamboge, then again with QBO, getting wetter and wetter and sort of sliding the paint around a bit. I blotted some areas in the back part of the grassy area to lighten them a bit. I also made sure the sky area was not completely dry and trailed the lighter greenish colour a little into it so it would seep up the page a touch, giving some interest in the background.
The leaves went on in a pointilist or daubing fashion, far different from the monochrome version above. Although the source picture shows the leaves having quite a bit of blue in the red (making a deep fuchsia or magenta), I decided to go another way and use unmixed and nearly pure Cadmium Red Scarlet, which has a bit of orange in the tint. This made the leaves much brighter than the original, which i like.
Next, I mixed a bit of Phthalo Green in with the Scarlet (just a teensy touch!! Ph.Green is '''so''' strong a pigment!) to darken it a bit and daubed this on as an underlayer to the pure Scarlet. Finally, I mixed Ph.Green, New Gamboge and just a bit of Scarlet to make the lighter green leaves. Finally, I mixed Ph.Green with Scarlet to get a darker green to start filling in the dark parts of the leaf bundle.
It was here that I began to see problems in the composition:
The painting was split 50:50 horizontally and vertically, which makes it uninteresting. I decided to crop the bottom quarter of the picture (using photoshop -- the original painting is still full size) and like it much better:
This works much better, I feel.