Gretchen Markle

Getting to a painting

Sometimes, even with these tiny paintings, it takes several tries to get one that I like.  (The great things is that, since they're little, I can do several fairly quickly.)


There is a beautiful pond at Sandwell Provincial Park just down the hill from our house.  Over the past couple of years, I've done several plein air drawings of it.  This past week, in the chill (too cold to work with oil pastels) and the rain (it really makes a mess of the paper), I decided to work from photos.  


First, I walked down and took a look.  Despite the rain and mist, the pond was very beautiful in its January colours. - the backdrop trees in deep green, the waterside grasses in yellow-orange, the wild rose bushes in deep red, and the grass in bright green.  I snapped several quick pics, trying not to let my little digital point-and-shoot camera get wet.  


Once home again, rain gear  drying in front of the wood stove, I started working from the images.  Well...


This is the first essay:

(3.5 in. X 5.25 in.)

Hmmm.  Not great.  The colours are fairly true to the scene, but it's pretty blah.


Try again.

(2 in. X 3 in.)

I found that I had trouble 'reconciling' the dark blue-greens of the background with the bright yellow-greens of the foreground, especially when everything is played off against the red-orange of the rose bushes.  I ended up adding some warmth to the background and toning down the intensity of the foreground.

Better, but it's still pretty blah.


Try again.

(2.5 in. X 2.5 in.)

Same colour issues as last time.  I did use a paper with a heavier grit, so I was able to layer on more paint.  I still didn't really like it.

Perhaps it was the composition that was giving me grief, so...


One more try:

(2.5 in. X 2.5 in)

I got rid of the big band of rose bushes with their heavy verticals and large area, but I kept a touch of the colour.  I worked small again, and put on several layers of paint, especially in the trees.  I tried to keep the strokes loose and painterly.

And voilà!  Finally, I like this one.