Sunday, November 21, 2021

"Provence Olive Grove" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12")


"Provence Olive Grove" (watercolor, 9" x 12")

I decided to blog about my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA. This is what we did in the last week of the fall term, 2021 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class.  

The lesson was "Inspired by Vincent van Gogh," the famous post-impressionist painter who doesn't need introduction. We painted the olive grove next to the Abbaye de Montmajour, near Arles, where van Gogh used to live. He drew the medieval monastic ruins many times. He probably painted the same olive grove with the distant Alpilles mountains in the background. We tried to channel van Gogh in watercolor, focusing on mark-making with a high-key, impressionist colors.

First, I drew the design with watercolor pencils. Then I painted the sky on dry paper with very pale Winsor lemon (along the mountains) and cobalt blue (from the top of the paper) and let the two colors merge. If the brush skipped the paper and left some white bits, so much better. There you go an instant cloud or two!

When the sky wash dried, I painted the distant mountains in a mid-tone purple mixture of cobalt blue and permanent alizarin crimson (adding a little quinacridone gold to neutralize the purple). While the mountain wash was drying, I painted the dry grass shape with a light gold wash, leaving some white bits. Then went in the distant plane (between the mountains and the olive grove) in the light green wash of cobalt blue and lemon.

The olive leaves were painted with the same mixture, perhaps slightly bluer (even with the two-color mixture, you can push it to one way or to the other). The gnarly olive tree trunks and branches were painted with the mid-tone mixture of French ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The foreground bush was painted with light green and some yellow on top. Don't put this shape right in the middle, or make it too big, important and detailed! The purpose of the bush is to introduce some interest in the big foreground grass shape.

Now the painting is blocked in, it was time to break it down, add definitions, details, and brush strokes, and generally add busy marks in the style of Vincent. This was done with an increasingly deeper versions of the first colors, making sure we don't go too dark, maintaining a high-key feeling.

For the grass, I used a rigger brush, which made different marks. The shadows of the trees that indicate the time of the day (late afternoon) and the flat terrain were painted with the purple mixture of ultramarine blue and crimson.

I don't think I painted like van Gogh at all. Busy brush strokes are not my cup of tea! It was a fun project though. Below are the reference and my sample painting (at the bottom of the post). 


"Provence Olive Grove" Reference

Here is a quick look at what we have covered in just nine weeks. I am planning lots of fun projects for the winter term. The winter registration for my online "Watercolor from Start to Finish" is open; here is the link for the class.

Fall Trees Small File.jpg
"Fall Trees" (watercolor, 12" x 9")
Sunflower Love Demo.jpg
"Sunflowers" (watercolor, 9" x 9")

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Demo Small File.jpg
"Peggy's Cove Lighthouse" (watercolor, 12" x 9")
Red on Red Small File.jpg
"Red on Red" (watercolor, 9" x 12")
Holmes Run Rocks Demo.jpg
"Holmes Run Rocks" (watercolor, 12" x 9")
Storm Moving In Demo.jpg
"Storm Moving In" (watercolor, 9" x 12")
Siberian Tiger Small File.jpg
"Siberian Tiger" (watercolor, 9" x 12")
"Annie" (watercolor, 12" x 9")

"Provence Olive Grove" (watercolor, 9" x 12")

No comments:

Post a Comment