Three Degrees: Fifth Wash—Harmony Perceived and Captured

Three Degrees: Fifth Wash—Harmony Perceived and Captured

Posted: April 6, 2012 
Filed under: Three Degrees, blog
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I work into the closer trees on the right; these will establish the core of the reflections in the pond. On these trees, there is more detail in the branches, but I still need to keep it loose…back to careful randomness! I work fast here, spontaneity being the key. I’m using only Davy’s Gray and Indigo Blue now. I will use only four pigments throughout this painting; I am focusing on the subtle interplay ofthese colors to achieve the mood I want.
Winter scenes obviously do not have the endless variations of color and tone as say, a spring scene would have, but it is not that simple. The effect of the subdued winter light makes it extremely important to study and recognize the subtle variations it creates in the landscape, and use these to infuse the painting with life and feeling.
Keeping it simple, adding and subtracting as I feel, I move through this phase fairly quickly.

3 Degrees 5th

For this phase, I pull all the elements into a tighter cohesive whole. I build on the previous layers of color, defining the elements of the composition, using the same basic blues as before. I work more deliberately in this phase, bringing out the essential features of the houses, still using fluid washes, but adding pigment a bit more than before. I also tone down the highlights areas on the buildings using a very pale combination of Cerulean and Cobalt blue. I don’t want the highlight areas to compete, I want them as a subtle contrast.

The windows and doors will be an important element in this painting, and I work carefully on these. I want a mosaic of darker areas to lead your eye through the relatively uniform colors of the houses, like small stepping stones across a shallow creek. I planned this in my sketches, trying different combinations, and like the movement and geometric qualities they bring to the composition.

I don’t rush, this is important, but I also do not overwork or overstate any area. It is balance that is fundamental to any watercolor painting, but more so for a white on white composition. You can’t be timid, but aggression could be fatal. It is a harmony you must perceive and then capture.