Inspired by the Seasons

Autumn

After a somewhat grey summer Jeremy Ford finds inspiration for his paintings in the oranges and rusty ochres that autumn brings

I often think of spring as my favourite season but when autumn comes round it really does take some beating! I love those warm, golden afternoons as the trees begin to lose their leaves and maybe later in the day when there’s a mist about and the distant hint of wood smoke in the air.

Sometimes you might catch early morning dew on cobwebs on the branches of bushes, the last of the roses, michaelmas daisies and a diminishing number of blooms in the garden. The greens fade into subtle rusty ochres, oranges and browns as everything is slowing down in the gradual coming of winter.

What a host of subjects to paint though! As the days begin to shorten we need to work quickly if we are to catch the moment. The turning trees will not last and neither will the light, so make the most of your opportunities.

Two of my favourite places during autumn are the Lake District and North Yorkshire and these are areas I return to time and again to paint. There’s also something quite comforting in familiar places. I sometimes paint the same views because each time I see them they’ve changed slightly; a different sky, the light might be different, the time of day I paint may vary, the trees may have grown a bit more.

It’s a good idea to take a photograph of the scene or object you are painting. This will help if you don’t get the chance to finish your painting there and then, as well as providing a great source of inspiration for another picture!

They may or may not have shed their leaves depending upon exactly when in the autumn I go. Of course it’s not always possible to paint so I take lots of photographs and regularly use bags of artistic licence! In this painting of boats at Ullswater (below), which was done on site, I only captured part of what was in front of me as you can see from the photograph.

I took the photograph as well in case I didn’t have a chance to finish it there and then, but also because I might use it for different paintings later on, for example using a bigger view, or a wide panoramic painting with less sky and foreground.

One photograph can provide lots of ideas! If you do paint outside you may well find that the light moves so subtly that you’re chasing shadows. They were over here, and now they’re over there; what was dark one moment is light the next!

Maybe do quick sketches to show the light source and shadows and take photographs at the start and finish. You then have the different forms of reference at your disposal for working from later on. Some of the best days for outdoor painting are those which have little sunlight. No strong shadows moving about, but a general light only.

This study of Ullswater (above) was painted on site in about 80 minutes on just such a day. Although it’s a generally grey-ish picture, it has an appeal for me because of its limited palette of colours. I paint in different styles depending on my mood - and the paper! In this study of a road (below) with overhanging trees the paint has been applied in a rather blobby and impressionistic way.

The paper I used was cartridge paper which doesn’t absorb paint very well, causing it to sit on the surface more. I find painting on this kind of paper liberating, enabling me to paint with a certain looseness and spontaneity.

I have already mentioned some flowers redolent of autumn and with some of the beautiful leaf shades visible during this time of year there is plenty of scope for inspiration.

I painted these ornamental thistles (above) on-site in a walled garden growing against the rustic rich red of a brick wall, and whilst I haven’t indicated the wall recognisably, I used its colour which was visible in the head of the thistles as well.

Why not try these fun exercises?

Season of Mists

For the hazy silhouetted trees, mix a grey using Ultramarine and Cadmium Red, Vermillion or Burnt Sienna. If the grey is too violet, add a tiny amount of any yellow to dull it slightly. Also prepare a mixture of Burnt Sienna. Note that neither of these mixes should be too watery. Wet the paper and, while it's damp, drop in the grey to create misty trees. Fade out the bottom of the trees with a damp brush, blending it into the damp paper. Leave a gap then quickly brush in the Burnt Sienna for the field underneath. Smooth out if any paint runs too much.

Mist and Puddles

Do the same as in the first exercise but don't wet the area where the puddles are going. Instead, introduce pale Burnt Sienna so it bleeds slightly into the damp misty area, then bring the Burnt Sienna, or a darker brown down onto the dry paper painting around thin puddles, leaving them white. Build up deeper earth colours in the foreground once dry if needed.

Sunny Hills, Misty Valley

Prepare a wash of Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre or similar and prepare a grey as before. Working at a slight angle (ie not flat), paint the Raw Sienna on the top of the hills and quickly carry them on downwards with the grey, letting both colours blend a little where they meet.

Fade out the grey at the bottom of the hills with a damp brush. When this has dried, paint a small tree using Autumnal colours and the top of a field for it to grow in, (Cadmium Yellow mixed with Ultramarine, or use a ready-made green of your choice) fading out with a damp brush at the bottom

.

Materials

SAA Watercolours:

Ultramarine
Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red or Vermillion
Cadmium Yellow

Medium size watercolour brush:

Worker or large worker

Surface:

Watercolour paper

For details of Jeremy's workshops, courses and painting holidays, visit www.jeremyford.co.uk or phone 01977 615843.


Inspired by the Seasons

Autumn

After a somewhat grey summer Jeremy Ford finds inspiration for his paintings in the oranges and rusty ochres that autumn brings

I often think of spring as my favourite season but when autumn comes round it really does take some beating! I love those warm, golden afternoons as the trees begin to lose their leaves and maybe later in the day when there’s a mist about and the distant hint of wood smoke in the air.

Sometimes you might catch early morning dew on cobwebs on the branches of bushes, the last of the roses, michaelmas daisies and a diminishing number of blooms in the garden. The greens fade into subtle rusty ochres, oranges and browns as everything is slowing down in the gradual coming of winter.

What a host of subjects to paint though! As the days begin to shorten we need to work quickly if we are to catch the moment. The turning trees will not last and neither will the light, so make the most of your opportunities.

Two of my favourite places during autumn are the Lake District and North Yorkshire and these are areas I return to time and again to paint. There’s also something quite comforting in familiar places. I sometimes paint the same views because each time I see them they’ve changed slightly; a different sky, the light might be different, the time of day I paint may vary, the trees may have grown a bit more.

It’s a good idea to take a photograph of the scene or object you are painting. This will help if you don’t get the chance to finish your painting there and then, as well as providing a great source of inspiration for another picture!

They may or may not have shed their leaves depending upon exactly when in the autumn I go.

Of course it’s not always possible to paint so I take lots of photographs and regularly use bags of artistic licence! In this painting of boats at Ullswater (below), which was done on site, I only captured part of what was in front of me as you can see from the photograph.

I took the photograph as well in case I didn’t have a chance to finish it there and then, but also because I might use it for different paintings later on, for example using a bigger view, or a wide panoramic painting with less sky and foreground.

One photograph can provide lots of ideas! If you do paint outside you may well find that the light moves so subtly that you’re chasing shadows. They were over here, and now they’re over there; what was dark one moment is light the next!

Maybe do quick sketches to show the light source and shadows and take photographs at the start and finish. You then have the different forms of reference at your disposal for working from later on. Some of the best days for outdoor painting are those which have little sunlight. No strong shadows moving about, but a general light only.

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