I’ve been working on small paintings of the River Mole that flows through the valley here and trying different techniques.
I took some photos of the river on a sunny day and wanted to test out ways of depicting trees and shrubs. I first sketched one of the scenes in my sketchbook, working out composition, tonal range and scale. To be honest there isn’t much to sketch and it’s why I haven’t worked on this subject before. But looking at other artists work I realise that simple subjects can generate charm and calm often lacking in more complex scenes. So its important to know when to stop drawing.
The next step is to work out a painting from the drawing. The important parts are background line of trees, colour of field, shadows where the water disappears and the reflections in the water. I also decided to focus the detail on the bankside, which is a feature of the Mole. The panoramic shape was also chosen, as it allows the eye to travel across the page, providing more breathing space when less sky or water is featured.
I took another photo of the river and attempted another painting using a busier style and a different brush. For some reason I was seduced into a square shape by the scene and showing more water. Having used an old oil brush the vegetation has a more complex feel and actually looks a bit like oils. I probably should work on the foreground more as the plants are looking a little too simplistic but I’ve run out of steam for now.
Amendment: I later realised this painting was not about detail but about mood. So I’ve cropped out some of the foreground using a smaller mount and this improves the scene, in my view.