Join David Bellamy from the comfort of your studio as he captures Alton Castle on a
chilly winter morning
I have somewhat of a reputation for wild stuff but don’t worry, even though I personally still do crazy things in appalling conditions at times, I am not suggesting you do the same. What I hope is to encourage you to go out and make the most of
our fabulous winter landscapes when the weather and conditions are comfortable and conducive to pleasant working as I believe the winter landscape
is much simpler to paint than that of summer
Although you can see more of Alton Castle
if you venture further down the Churnet
Valley I chose to paint it from this vantage point, preferring it to appear more hidden adding a
sense of mystery and intrigue. The sky was laid on first using a simple wash of Cobalt Blue to the top of the sky area, and the lower sky in Yellow
Ochre. When this had dried I brushed in masking fluid for the light tree branches, using a No. 1 Rigger brush. Weak Light Red was applied where the sunlit tree mass came up to the castle, and the castle itself rendered with the same colour plus a little Yellow Ochre. For the lower part of the picture, where I wanted to suggest a cool foreground, I washed on a weak mixture of Winsor Blue. This accentuated the warmth of the castle and surrounding trees.
The left-hand top line of trees directly in
front of the castle were reinforced with a
weak mixture of Light Red and Winsor Blue.
The strength of the detail in these trees diminishes
as they approach the foreground right-hand
trees, to suggest that they are in the distance.
The lower left-hand trees were painted with a
stronger mix to bring them forward. As you can
see, although I have used warm colour for the distance, the scene still conveys a sense of depth and space because the closer trees are both stronger in tone and contain more detail, although in most cases the warmer colours tend to be in the foreground. With a strong mix of Winsor Blue and Light Red, the left-hand foreground trees were painted in, to stand out well against the background. I used a No. 4 Round Sable for the trunks and the Rigger for the thinner branches. Once this had dried the masking fluid was rubbed off these trees, suggesting snow still clinging to the branches.
During the latter stages of painting the original watercolour sketch the mist had been gradually rising, and I emulated this effect by sponging horizontally across the lower part of the left-hand
trees with a natural sponge and clean water. To further accentuate the mist I created a soft shadow band horizontally below the mist with a weak mix of Winsor Blue and Light Red. For the right-hand trees I chose a stronger mixture of Winsor Blue and Burnt Umber, then a much weaker version of the same mixture for the snowy banks, ice and foreground details. The dark water was rendered with a mixture of Winsor Blue plus Burnt Umber, and while this was still wet the dark reflections were dropped in with a stronger version of the same mixture, then a light streak pulled out with a damp 1/2" Flat brush. Use a thin Flat
brush for this, as it can look clumsy if you try it with one of the thicker Flats. Finally I removed the rest of the masking fluid. By the time I had finished the original sketch the castle had lost the sun, and become dark and foreboding, so I hurried off to my lodgings.