A Monolith with Masking
A Monolith with Masking
Follow PA Joe Francis Dowden as he demonstrates how the use of simple layers of flowing colour alternated with masking fluid can create the craggy complex texture of this magnificent mountain in the Lake District
High Stile in the Western Lake District is a solid block towering above its surroundings; with an elevation of 807 metres it is England's 11th highest mountain.
Build with separate washes, drying before moving on. Make it simpler by using masking fluid. Mix plenty of wet, strong, flowing colour. Forget about snow being white; it’s dark in the shade, and although it can be predominantly light it reflects many colours and is only occasionally pure white. Don’t expect the painting to look great until the very end. It doesn’t have to look exactly like mine, which is slightly modified from the real mountain, seen from Dale Head in the Lake District (my artist’s license is valid until the 32nd of September, 2150).
Mask the edge of the foreground. Wet most of the painted area and apply a mix of Cerulean Blue with a little Neutral Tint to the foreground, a mix of Neutral Tint and Phthalo Blue further up, and Raw Sienna with some grey from the other colours for some of the streaks. Apply “oodles” of wet colour to the wash letting it spread through the water, and then drag out some “arms” of the warmer colour up the mountain side. For the snow fields Mix Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue, Neutral Tint and Raw Sienna.
Mask the patterns of snow. Bear in mind these are not all “white”. Some of the snow is in deep shadow and is very dark. Mask snow over the dark as well as the white. I use an old synthetic brush. Notice the many upturned “bow” shaped marks, masked for fallen snow at the bases of many smaller precipices. Refer to the finished image to see where these are.
Spatter some droplets of masking fluid from a toothbrush over the scree slopes and mountain faces. You can easily see the pattern of masked snow from the sheen on the paper. Refer to the finished image as well for the snow patterns. Paint the sky with a mix of Neutral Tint, Raw Sienna, and Phthalo Blue. It is helpful to turn the painting upside down because this makes it much easier to paint along the top of the mountain. Use plenty of wet colour, very wet on the dry paper. I varied the colour slightly. Paint it once and leave it alone.
Use a mix of Neutral Tint and Phthalo Blue for the darks, keeping the colour greyer and paler for the misty valley sides, and leaving the blue valley bottom alone altogether. Drag the colour in streaks leaving underlying lighter grey colour from the previous wash to show as lighter streaks of snow in deep shade. With mixes of Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Neutral Tint, brush rough patches of texture for the exposed rock. Leave some speckled whites showing. When it’s dry, pick out some of the intense darks with a mix of Neutral Tint and Phthalo Blue. Brush a watery blue grey mix of Cerulean Blue, Raw Sienna and Quinacridone Magenta over the foreground in streaks which follow the fall of the land, leaving small elongated whites in the distance and large ones in the foreground.
Brush the foreground rocks with Raw Sienna and a little Burnt Sienna. Brush the fine shadow sides with the Neutral Tint / Phthalo Blue mix. Use a mix of Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue and Neutral Tint for the shadows on the snow. And now for the magic - remove all the dry masking.
Hint: When painting a distant mountain never go to full strength in paint. The “ghosting” paleness will make it look more distant and massive.
It doesn’t matter exactly how you do this painting. These are just a few suggestions. You could try masking rough texture with a sponge or hog hair brush or even try imprinting rough rock texture with cling film. Have a go and see what you come up with. Desire usually points to talent, and if you want to paint, it means you probably can!
Joe paints for an international clientele and runs monthly Wednesday and Saturday workshops in Sussex, as well as residential courses. He tours the country with his lively demonstrations of watercolour and always aims to paint to art gallery standard. Joe’s website www.joedowden.com features tutorial paintings and details of his workshops and classes. Alternatively call him on 0788 799 8499 / 01903 237096.
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