Spring Fervour with David Hyde
Professional Artist David Hyde illustrates the benefits of using artist quality materials to capture this spring scene
My first impression of Winsor & Newton's Artists' Water Colour Paper was that it seemed thicker than other 300gsm/140lb papers I have used. Being fond of heavier weight papers I was immediately impressed by the 'feel' of this one. The paper is acid free and mould made giving a tougher, more random texture to the surface. The distinctive, yet subtle texture combined with the extra toughness and thickness makes it an ideal surface for those who do a good amount of drawing.
The paper is internally and externally sized which helps keep colours bright. The size contains binders which prevent its loss during the normal stretching process. I always stretch my watercolour paper, so I soaked a piece from my pad for five or six minutes and taped it to my board resulting in a stretched sheet measuring 16 x 12 inches for this demonstration.
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The subject, a flock of sheep on an early spring day, involved much rubbing out and re-drawing before I was happy with the look of the main five sheep. The rest of the flock required much less effort and are quite simple shapes. None of this stage damaged the paper surface in any way. I 'invented' the field entrance and fencing and embellished the lead-in with mud and puddles to add interest. The farm is near my home and on high ground - this is as hilly as it gets in Cambridgeshire!
I laid in my first washes using my No.10 sable leaving the sheep and the fence posts unpainted. I mixed the sky and distance tones and washed them into the foreground knowing these will be strengthened later. I also used the sky mix to paint the whole area where the puddles will be.
I used a Cobalt Blue wash for the sky and puddles, brushing in some Alizarin Crimson near the horizon. Aureolin was used with a little Viridian added for the distance hills, Aureolin for the main field area behind the sheep and again with Viridian added for the foreground. This was left to dry.
Still with the No.10 brush I mixed a deeper sky tone and painted in the far distant landscape. I then strengthened the field colour behind the sheep with a mix of Aureolin and Raw Sienna, bringing this down into the foreground slightly and softening the edges with a damp brush. With a lightish wash of Burnt Umber I started to 'draw' in the puddle shapes, I made sure I worked into the foreground green area establishing the feeling of a muddy, well-used entrance to this field. Again, this was left to dry.
With a No.6 brush and tissue I lifted out some of the colour in the far distance to suggest fields. I returned with the No.10 to paint the distant trees and hedgerows using a mix of Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson and a little Raw Sienna. I now started strengthening the foreground tones by adding grass 'detail' with a medium toned mix of Viridian and Burnt Umber. It is important to develop adequately the tones and contrast in the foreground to give the picture a sense of depth.
A warmer tone is needed for the middistance trees and fence line. I used Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. I painted them with a No.10 using the tip for the trunks and fence posts. I now changed to my No.6 and applied a medium/strong mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine to get some definition in the muddy foreground. This increased the contrast with the puddles and so these too became more defined.
I re-wet the puddles using a small atomising spray - this helps prevent movement of the existing colours. Leaving the water near the sheep I 'muddied' the closer puddles with my No.10 and a gentle wash of Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber. This has the effect of drawing the eye through the gap in the fence, towards the brighter water and the sheep, helping to strengthen the composition. With the No.6 I painted the fence posts with Raw Sienna leaving them light against the dark grasses but added a mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine to the tops where the background was light. A deeper mix of Viridian and Burnt Umber added shadows and detail to the grasses while a deeper mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine, painted along the waterline of each puddle suggested they were lying in hollows.
Time to paint the sheep. Leaving white paper on the tops and to the left side of the sheep I painted the main five with a wash of raw Sienna. When dry I added a defining shadow wash of Raw Sienna and French Ultramarine (add a touch of Alizarin Crimson if your mix looks too green). The shadows on the rest of the flock can be painted with the same mix, but do leave a little white here and there to suggest light. A No.6 was used for all the sheep painting.
I mixed a deeper shadow colour using French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna with a little Alizarin Crimson. This I used to paint the darker shadows on the closer sheep, their cast shadows on the ground and the faces of the more distant ones. The nearer sheep were finished with a French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna mix for their 'black' faces.
I added some finishing touches with the rigger suggesting weeds and grasses. I used a Viridian/Burnt Umber mix for those against a light background and an Opaque Naples Yellow/Titanium White mix for those against a dark.
I recommend the Winsor & Newton Artist's Water Colour paper to you. The colours remained bright even after a much altered drawing and several wash overlays. Adding animals gives landscapes charm and interest. I do hope you enjoyed this demonstration.
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