The edge of the woods

The light was really beautiful this morning in Angell Woods, and as I approached an area of the path bordered by houses, this grouping of buildings caught my eye. The pattern of light was so sharp as it cut through a clearing, that I quickly snapped a photo to use as a reference in studio.

I came home and tried out a technique I watched in a CSPWC demo by Poppy Balser the other night. Poppy is a Nova Scotia painter whose work I have admired for a very long time. Her technique for working in values is a little different than mine. Her value paintings are full size, meaning that they are on the same size paper as the sheet she is intending to paint on in colour, whereas my value sketches are always smaller than my paintings, more like postcard size. And instead of working in a single pigment like Payne’s Grey, she makes a gorgeous mix of Daniel Smith Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna and paints with that.

Why work in values first? In watercolour, this really lets you figure out where the lights and darks in a painting will be. I have been using this planning method for many years, but it was nice to hear someone else think their way through a painting, and see them paint in a slightly different way than what I do. I decided to try her method in studio today, so I worked on a 10″ x 14″ sheet of Arches CP 140 lb. Tomorrow I will paint this in colour and we will see how that turns out.

As for the demo series, most of the free events the CSPWC is offering on Zoom in October sold out quickly, but there are still tickets for a panel discussion about plein air painting that I think will be really interesting.

6 Comments on “The edge of the woods”

  1. twwhatnot says:

    Terrific! Thanks to your classes, I’ve added Prussian Blue to my palette. Among other things I use it for, I’ve been doing (small) value studies using Prussian Blue and Transparent Red Iron Oxide, which make really nice greys and darks. Now I’ll go try one on a quarter sheet. Tom W.


    • So nice to read this Tom. This is apparently a wonderful combo. I’ve never tried Transparent Red Iron Oxide, but it sounds like a very popular combo. I’m going to see if I have any in my paint drawer!


  2. It already looks great, so I can’t wait to see in in color!


  3. Jeff says:

    The painting looks great. Monochrome paintings remind me of old black and white photos. Even though black and white is mostly gone and we expect to see everything in color I think the monochrome has it’s own kind of beauty.


  4. Laura Kate says:

    I like your value study. It tells the story of beautiful light quite well.


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