Inspired by the Seasons

Summer

Make sure you are ready to capture the summer when it comes, with Jeremy Ford’s latest seasonal suggestions

Summer can sometimes seem a long time coming and, here in Britain, if you blink you can occasionally miss it!

During the times when we do enjoy long days of glorious sunshine there's a great opportunity to go out and paint some of the beauty of nature. Early summer has a tremendous array of different greens which are less noticeable later on at the height of summer.

When we look at photographs of foliage there can be a lot of similar colour and it is then that I would consider using lots of artistic licence in exaggerating the colours and tones to make a more interesting colour composition.

Some years ago I painted this picture of two of my children on a beach on holiday. The background in the photograph (which I've lost) was a bit bland so I beefed up the colours a bit to give it a warm, appealing brightness which is lacking in the original photograph. There's also a charm about the two children enjoying timeless simple pleasures, like paddling in the sea and playing in the sand.

Photographs are fine as a guide but don't copy them too literally as they can sometimes lack subtlety. When I go out to paint, I take a camera to capture the basis of the subject I want to paint but I rely more on my colour sketches than on the colours in the photograph.

I often leave things out or move things around as well in order to make a pleasing composition. I try to be as compact as possible as I don’t want to be overburdened with lots of equipment, so I just take a box set of paints, a few brushes of various sizes, a bottle of water and a water jar.

For larger and sustained work I use an easel to free up a hand, other times I just use my knee to rest my sketchbook on.

I have different size sketchbooks depending on the complexity of the subject and how long I’ve got.

I use watercolour and cartridge sketchbooks. Watercolour paper allows more working if necessary, whereas cartridge paper makes me paint more loosely and directly because it won’t take a lot of working.

I sometimes do tonal studies with either a pencil as in this drawing of Ashford-in-the-Water (above), or with water-soluble pen and wash in the study of garden buildings.

Tone is particularly important as it expresses mood and drama.

It concentrates the mind if we have only black and white and every tone in between.

We need to look carefully at subtle changes of tone in order to make objects stand out or recede. In these tonal studies notice how the darks throw the light areas forward.

Sketchbook studies and any accompanying photographs are occasionally used to create more finished work back in the studio.

No brushes were used in this pastel picture, just chalk pastels and my fingers! Greens in pastels can be a bit garish so I sometimes overlay them with greys and browns to tone them down a bit. Conversely, yellows with possibly a touch of white on top of greens will bring the sun out and make the colours sing!

Although I only work out of doors with watercolour, pencil or water-soluble pen, the studio works may be in any medium and I often try the same subject in different mediums to see which works best.

Don’t be afraid to experiment because that’s how we learn; even if it’s by discovering what doesn’t work rather than what does.

When going out painting we can easily spend too much time wandering around looking for the perfect view that we lose sight of what is there all around us.

These roses and foxgloves were growing on our patio and I rearranged them a little on the paper to make my composition.

You don’t have to go too far to see something of interest even if it’s not an amazingly dramatic vista. Sometimes right on our doorstep will be a potential subject, a corner of a garden, some flowers, a tree, a particular building maybe.

Expressing foliage with a brush is a common problem for many painters and you may have seen brushes designed to a particular shape in order to achieve an impression of a tree. Whilst these may be helpful they are not essential, but practice always is, whatever brush you use. Some effects might be easier to achieve with certain brushes but it’s the hand and mind behind the brush that does the work!

In this quick watercolour sketch of a cherry tree, I expressed the brightness of the sunlight on the leaves by leaving some of the white paper. It’s an impression of a moment, captured forever.

The word summer conjures up so many different images that it's been hard to know which to include and which to leave out. There's a variety of moods and styles here which have given me immense pleasure to create.

There are also times of frustration when it doesn't go according to plan but I hope that all these pictures convey something of the essence of summer and give you a few ideas for your own paintings. I look forward to sharing more with you next time. Good luck and happy painting!

A Simple Summer Landscape

1 Paint Ultramarine on dry paper down to where you want a few white clouds to be and soften the top of the clouds here and there with a damp (not wet) brush. When dry, dampen the inside of the clouds and brush in a mixture of mostly Ultramarine and less Cadmium Red or Vermillion, keeping the top of the clouds white. This mix will produce a violet-grey colour, but if the mixture's too reddish-brown add more Ultramarine. Underneath the clouds brush in a little paler Ultramarine, softening here and there with a damp brush.

2When dry, mix two greens: a yellow-green using Ultramarine and Lemon Yellow and a deeper green of Ultramarine and Cadmium Yellow. On dry paper working at a gentle angle paint some of the grey you used in the clouds to form hills, and while wet carry on with the greens so they merge with the grey. If you feel adventurous and if you're quick you could also brush some Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna amongst the greens while damp for more variation in the fields.

3When dry, mix some pale blue-green and using a fine brush paint the light trees and hedges in the distance, keeping the angles flat-ish. As you come nearer use midgreens and darker greens so they merge here and there in the trees and hedges. Put your feet up, admire your work, and enjoy a cuppa!

A reminder of some helpful green mixes

For vivid greens:
Lemon Yellow and Tropical Phthalo Blue.
For less vivid greens:
Cadmium Yellow and Phthalo Blue.
For bright greens:
Lemon Yellow and Ultramarine.
For subdued or duller greens:
Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarineol.

Jeremy's Complete Flower Painting Course has been re-launched
For details of Jeremy's workshops, courses and painting holidays, visit www.jeremyford.co.uk
E-mail: jeremy@jford40.freeserve.co.uk or phone 01977 615843.


Inspired by the Seasons

Summer

Make sure you are ready to capture the summer when it comes, with Jeremy Ford’s latest seasonal suggestions

Summer can sometimes seem a long time coming and, here in Britain, if you blink you can occasionally miss it!

During the times when we do enjoy long days of glorious sunshine there's a great opportunity to go out and paint some of the beauty of nature. Early summer has a tremendous array of different greens which are less noticeable later on at the height of summer.

When we look at photographs of foliage there can be a lot of similar colour and it is then that I would consider using lots of artistic licence in exaggerating the colours and tones to make a more interesting colour composition.

Some years ago I painted this picture of two of my children on a beach on holiday. The background in the photograph (which I've lost) was a bit bland so I beefed up the colours a bit to give it a warm, appealing brightness which is lacking in the original photograph. There's also a charm about the two children enjoying timeless simple pleasures, like paddling in the sea and playing in the sand.

Photographs are fine as a guide but don't copy them too literally as they can sometimes lack subtlety. When I go out to paint, I take a camera to capture the basis of the subject I want to paint but I rely more on my colour sketches than on the colours in the photograph.

I often leave things out or move things around as well in order to make a pleasing composition. I try to be as compact as possible as I don’t want to be overburdened with lots of equipment, so I just take a box set of paints, a few brushes of various sizes, a bottle of water and a water jar.

For larger and sustained work I use an easel to free up a hand, other times I just use my knee to rest my sketchbook on.

I have different size sketchbooks depending on the complexity of the subject and how long I’ve got.

I use watercolour and cartridge sketchbooks. Watercolour paper allows more working if necessary, whereas cartridge paper makes me paint more loosely and directly because it won’t take a lot of working.

I sometimes do tonal studies with either a pencil as in this drawing of Ashford-in-the-Water (above), or with water-soluble pen and wash in the study of garden buildings.

Tone is particularly important as it expresses mood and drama.

It concentrates the mind if we have only black and white and every tone in between.

We need to look carefully at subtle changes of tone in order to make objects stand out or recede. In these tonal studies notice how the darks throw the light areas forward.

Sketchbook studies and any accompanying photographs are occasionally used to create more finished work back in the studio.

No brushes were used in this pastel picture, just chalk pastels and my fingers! Greens in pastels can be a bit garish so I sometimes overlay them with greys and browns to tone them down a bit. Conversely, yellows with possibly a touch of white on top of greens will bring the sun out and make the colours sing!

Although I only work out of doors with watercolour, pencil or water-soluble pen, the studio works may be in any medium and I often try the same subject in different mediums to see which works best.

Don’t be afraid to experiment because that’s how we learn; even if it’s by discovering what doesn’t work rather than what does.

When going out painting we can easily spend too much time wandering around looking for the perfect view that we lose sight of what is there all around us.

These roses and foxgloves were growing on our patio and I rearranged them a little on the paper to make my composition.

You don’t have to go too far to see something of interest even if it’s not an amazingly dramatic vista. Sometimes right on our doorstep will be a potential subject, a corner of a garden, some flowers, a tree, a particular building maybe.

Expressing foliage with a brush is a common problem for many painters and you may have seen brushes designed to a particular shape in order to achieve an impression of a tree. Whilst these may be helpful they are not essential, but practice always is, whatever brush you use. Some effects might be easier to achieve with certain brushes but it’s the hand and mind behind the brush that does the work!

In this quick watercolour sketch of a cherry tree, I expressed the brightness of the sunlight on the leaves by leaving some of the white paper. It’s an impression of a moment, captured forever.

The word summer conjures up so many different images that it's been hard to know which to include and which to leave out. There's a variety of moods and styles here which have given me immense pleasure to create.

There are also times of frustration when it doesn't go according to plan but I hope that all these pictures convey something of the essence of summer and give you a few ideas for your own paintings. I look forward to sharing more with you next time. Good luck and happy painting!

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