Remember this photo of Goose Lake Prairie? Let’s paint it.
Here’s an early tip: Get a nice glossy, large reference photo, of real good quality before you try to paint. I only paint from my computer screen when I absolutely have to. My screen is really small and my eyes bug out from that bright screen even if I dim it. Now, my home printer never has color ink because nobody will refill it, so I found a little trick…..upload your photo to www.walgreens.com, pick a nice size (at least 8×10), choose a glossy finish, pick which Walgreens to pick it up from, and pay when you get there….and it’s only 3 bucks! The best thing is, if you’re in the mood to paint they can have it ready in one hour! For some reason, we have a Walgreens on every block…just like McDonalds, so picking up a print is super convenient for me. Now, Walgreens is not paying me a thing to advertise their store, but when I know a helpful trick that works, I like to share it.
The only other thing I would advise is to put your photo in a protective clear sleeve before you start to paint. You’ll be surprised how fast you can damage the photo from a dot of turpenoid or water! I’ve done it plenty of times.
First, we make a nice under painting. I chose to crop the photo which I decided at the last minute. I realized my focal point was the white herons and the black soil, if I painted all those grass blades, the viewer might be distracted and frustrated. Let’s make viewing art pleasurable, real life is distracting enough! Notice I didn’t use a ton of pastels in the first step, actually I could have used less and would have been just fine. A little turpenoid goes a long way.
Next, with a cheap 1″ paint brush, we dip it in some turpenoid and spread the pastel around. Remember we are using Kitty Wallis paper, it allows us to get it wet without falling apart. Nice bold amethyst color anchors our painting. Good beginning.
In the third step, we overlap with more subtle colors. In the sky first, distant trees and grasses next, and then in the water.
Here comes the fun part. Move the surface of the water with your finger! Blend it horizontally from side to side. Don’t cover up all of the bold amethyst color or your painting will feel heavy.
Finally we add our heron friends and an island of grasses. There were four herons that day, but an odd number of objects is always safe to use in artwork, it makes it more interesting. Don’t forget their little white reflections in the water too! Oh yeah…just like your trees should have “sky holes”, don’t forget your grasses should have “water holes”, they need to breath too.
This painting is titled: Prairie Oasis, and is 14×11. This painting is a gift for my mom, who is also a nature lover and it will always remind her of our fun adventures at Goose Lake Prarie!