Thursday, December 18, 2008

Make a Winter Christmas watercolour card

Step l: To prepare for the card, I took a 1/8 piece of watercolour paper (140lb Winsor & Newton CP) and folded it in half so that the front bottom was just a bit shorter than the back of the card so that I could put a nice border on it -see last step. I taped the folded paper carefully to my board with masking tape, so that the borders were even and the bottom of the card was at the bottom of my painting. It is embarassing, to say the least, when you make your card and it opens the wrong way!
I drew this scene from my imagination -to show my students that once they know a subject, you can make up scenes and paint strictly from their imaginations -what fun! I drew the scene and began by placing some of the branches of the foremost tree in first in a yellow-green mix of ultramarine blue (UB) and gamboge hue (GH). The branches painted represent those that would be sticking out from underneath a fresh snowfall (which we have had a TON of this week!)
Step 2: When step 2 was dry, using ultramarine blue, toned down just a touch with a bit of burnt sienna (BS -sorry!), I painted the bottom shadows of the clumps of snow on the branches and softened the top edge with a damp brush. This models the roundness of each snow clump.
Step 3: I painted the branches of the distant tree with a bluer mix of the UB/GH mix to push the tree back -also the branches were painted more simply to further suggest distance. I left the snow unpainted at this point.
Step 4: I painted in the first wash for the road with BS & UB, letting it get cooler as it receeds -distance again. I added the cast shadow from the foreground tree with UB and just a touch of BS. I modelled the clump of snow behind the foreground tree the same way the snow clumps were made -this gives me a tone to show off the bright white snow on the tree.
Step 5: I painted in the sky BEHIND the white snow clumps with a mixture of UB and Thalo Blue (TB), with more TB at the bottom and more UB near the top to suggest the receeding canopy of the sky. I lifted out some whispy cloud shapes with a thirsty brush while the sky was still damp. I also added some darker branches (blueish mix of UB & GH again, with a bit of BS to gray it a bit) to the shadow side of the tree, filling out the tree and suggesting the direction of the sunlight (which is on the right). I also put some snow shadows loosely on the distant tree, and modelled the snow bank on the right side of the road.
Step 6: I put another glaze of BS over the road and painted the distant fence with a dark brown mix of UB and BS, leaving the tops of the rails unpainted to suggest snow on them. I added the cast shadow from the distant tree, and darkend some of the shadows on the right bank. I put some BS brightened a bit with GH and Scarlet Lake to represent the tree trunk, and dropped the darker mix from the fence into the shadow side.
Step 7: To finish the painting I put some of the warmer tree trunk mixture into the front of the road, and modelled the snow bank under the foreground tree -the road is supposed to be going behind that bank -don't know how well that reads... I also went back into the sky and painted the sky a bit more on top of the fence rails so that the initial light blue reads as snow, then cast some shadows from the fence onto the snow. Make sure that the cast shadows follow the lay of the land! Then I added the shadows onto the left side of the tree to make sure that it read as being round. I added some cast shadows from some of the branches on the lower left snow clumps on the tree. I also added some more branches sticking out of the snow.
Step 8: To finish the card, I painted an UB stripe on the back page of the card so that when it was folded the lovely deckle edge of the paper showed. I wrote my holiday message on the inside and made an envelope for the card out of a piece of blue paper.
I hope you will try this easy card -you will learn about softening edges and negative painting as well as glazing.


Diane said...

Really beautiful, Sharon. Thanks for walking through the steps.

spiderink said...

I love your work and it is so wonderful how you show your process step-by-step. Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to coming back and visiting your blog again.

Donna said...

Sharon - thanks so much for this "lesson". Of course, it is too late for this year; but never too late to start for next year!

I am loving the "lessons" on the blog.