Tuesday, December 25, 2012

21~ Mural 2012: Hills and Grasses

Tuesday, October 23rd was our 17th day of painting, if I haven't miscounted. Most of the day, I worked on the bay windows. Toward nighttime, I took a break to start something I'd been needing to do all month. I'd been wanting to add some tonal values to the hilly landscape. That would soften the hills and give them a realistic look ~ not total realism, of course, but a three-dimensional look and feel. In my mind, I knew how to do it, but wasn't sure how hard it would be. In a lifetime of painting, I've experienced those nightmares of painterly funkiness when I don't have a technique down pat. Maybe I can't get the tones quite right, or can't get them to blend; I overwork an area until the film half dries and the paint glops up; or I run out of a color and then can't mix quite the same blend ~ which doesn't matter unless it's a big, continuous area that has to be consistent in color. I'd already had a little trouble in a couple of places on the mural: the small tree and shadow in the pasture; and a small area of mountains and trees to the right of the main mountain.

I will confess: I did consider leaving it alone, letting it be flat. Everyone else was satisfied and thought it was finished. No-one had complained. But I secretly winced every time I looked at them. A time or two, I asked Brenda, if I showed her how to do the brushwork for blending, could she help? She wasn't sure, but was willing to try. I explained how I'd be doing it: painting an area of green, then blending into it with another shade of green, wet on wet. She'd have to watch me do it and try to do the same. I told her I'd start and area and see how it went. In the end, I just went ahead and did it myself. Latex dries pretty quickly, so there was no point in stopping long enough to train someone to blend. I had had a chance to test my blending on the mini-landscape behind the barn. Now I decided to start on the small pasture with the calf in it.

I poured out two separate greens: the pale green we'd used in highlights, and the medium green we'd used in shadows. From those, I mixed a third and maybe a fourth green. My plan was to figure out where I wanted the mass ~ kind of like the heart of the shadow of the hill ~ to be, and would do a curved line of the original color we'd used. Then I'd quickly do the alternate color above it. Then I'd double-dip my wide brush and brush vigorously into both swatches I'd just painted, blending them together, but refraining from keeping the brushwork in a smooth line; I would let it cross and overlap.

I completed the pasture and thought it worked fairly well. It would've been a little easier if I hadn't already put the calf there, but that is the way I often do things. I now knew that I could do the bigger hills, or thought so, anyway. But it was nighttime, and the vigorous brushwork had tired me out. The fence was a good stopping point. I gave up the big hills and left them for the next day. Brenda was tired, too. She'd been painting on town side. We knocked off for the day and headed home.


Mural 2012: Tuesday, October 23rd (Hills and Grasses)

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