Following a very successful couple of workshops with Peter Woolley, we are going to try a self tuition project, painting in his style with 3 original photo's so as not to infringe copyright. I will lead you through step by step and your finished pictures can go in this space. If you want to join in the tuition and add your own tips, please use What's app or email or get in touch.
1 You'll need a sheet of Mei Teites pastel paper or watercolour paper plus some pens and pastels. The instruction is written for Panpastels but watercolour and pastel sticks will work equally well. The drawing and composition has been made from the two photographs above combining the late afternoon river scene and the angler. The horizon line is above halfway as the water is more important than the sky. There are three focal points. The main one is the top right intersection of thirds which is where the brightest sunlight will be, the top left intersection of thirds where the smaller area of sunlight will be, and the bottom right intersection where the angler will stand. Main colours will be a range of yellows, blues and orange/browns. The same colours in different tones must appear throughout the picture to promote colour harmony. The Panpastels are shown below. A few of the colours you can get by adding white or black are shown alongside.
2. The undercoat can be done in Panpastel or watercolour. The first picture below shows a watecolour underpainting. You don't need to be too careful as much of it will be covered by pastel. I used masking fluid for the figure. The second picture shows the pastel underpainting. If you're using Panpastel then I suggest you keep an old towel and some kitchen roll or toilet roll handy. Panpastel isn't very dusty but it helps to keep your fingers and sponges clean. There will only be a little detail shown in this first coat. It’s more important to identify your main blocks of dark and light tones using the above colours. Start with the sky and ensure the water reflects a similar range of sky colours. Notice that I haven’t yet coloured in the darker areas of the water because it is easier to do this with pastels later. See the triangular shaped sponge? Use that flat to create the big block shapes. Gently stroke it over the pastel block and then apply to the pastel paper using circular motions. You can press hard on the paper but not on the Panpastel block.
3. Add in the background colour for your tree masses using oranges, yellows and browns, If you don't have brown you can use a mixture of red and yellow plus purple or some other dark colour. Add the shaps of your big trees and then add in the farthest trees using your dark colour. Use the edge of your sponge with the dark colour to hint at the shape of the trees in the far background. Emphasise the light against dark parts of the key focal points in the top part of the picture. Add the dark patch in the middle ground. Dont worry about detail at this stage.
4. From this point, watercolour and Pastel underpaintings follow the same approach. Dry thoroughly first if using watercolour. Block-in the colours using downward strokes to show the broken reflection underneath the right bank. Match the darks and lights to the main colours on the bank side. We are still doing the undercoat here so don't get the pastel too thick or detailed. Add in the left hand bank and the reflection in the water of the bright grass. Add some oranges and browns into the water. Watch the pattern of light and dark shapes in the water. You'll notice that the pastel colours have not been softened at this stage.
5. Whether you've used Panpastel or watercolour you'll need to get your pens out for this stage. I've used Windsor and Newton Brushmarkers in warm and cool greys. Strengthen the darks in the focal point with pens, add in more background trees and branches, sculpt out some rocks and pebbles (in the middle of the picture) by emphasising the darks underneath and in the corner cracks of the rocks using the pens. Add shape to the bank sides. Don't worry about mistakes - you can always pastel over the top again.
6. Switch to stick pastels at this stage to add more darks to the water (following the pattern of the flow) and to the lower part of the bushes on the left. Go back in with pastel sticks amongst the trees to add a little more variety to the undergrowth and foliage. Stand back to check that your lights and darks are in the right place and that the tonal values are right.
7. Add more darks to the water and bank then use pipe lagging (or finger) to soften the edges of the colours in the water - again following the flow of the rippples, moving from the outer edge towards the centre. Then add back some big marks with a flourish in blues and yellows to create surface movement in the foreground. It was only at this stage that I got rid of the rocks on the bottom right as they didn't add any value to the picture. Add colour to the angler, making sure he is still harmonious with the rest of the picture. Add a shadow to the back of him using pens or a dark pastel stick and also add a highlight using a white pastel stick to his front and his cap. Add a slightly darker reflection from his legs into the water. Drag a white pastel gently across the surface of the water in the far back of the picture to create light reflections. Do the same where the water meets the right hand bank and add a couple of intermittent flashes of white to act as pointers from the right hands side of the picture towards the rocks in the middle ground. The last action is to take a white gel pen (a black pen will also do the trick) to show the bendy rod and whipped action of the fishing line. The different colour of the last picture is due to the photo being taken in daylight. as opposed to artifical light.
1 This flower has been done without a reference photo. Use a waterproof ink and a 0.3mm pen to draw your flower shapes. If necessary, do it in pencil first. Keep it simple. If you use a watercolouble ink it will run when you apply watercolour and water.
2 The first stage is wet on wet. Decide on your colour scheme and remember that watercolour always dried lighter thann you think it will. Thoroughly wet your paper, avoiding the flower shapes, and then drop in a few colours in the background and let them spread. Wait for this layer to dry.
3 Put the main colour into your flower heads- varying the tone it slightly where you can. Wait for it to dry.
4 Use a damp brush to lift out colour - mostly near the edges rather than the base of your flowers and flower buds to get a nice graduation of colour.
5. Add a yellow or gold to parts of the flowers to make them glow
6 Finally, using two pens, 0.3mm and 0.5mm, complete the stems and further detail near the base of the flowers. Voila!
The next self-tuition session will use a combination of the sunset and the coloured rocks and tree pictures. We'll do the basic painting in watercolour and then add highlights with pastels or pastel pencils. Use paper with a sufficiently rough surface to hold the pastel. Paper comes in 3 types - hot pressed (smooth), rough, and Not (neither rough nor smooth). The Not surface is best. Remember to use masking tape to keep the paper from buckling.
Step 1 - Drawing and composition
I've tried to keep each of my rock shapes as abstract as possible. If i see anything that looks like a square, oblong, triangle etc i try to change it. I've added some hills in the background and placed the sun, which has been masked off using masking fluid, in the upper right intersection. There's also a few spots of sunlight hitting the front edge of the rocks which I've masked out. Wait until the masking fluid dries. use a cut out of masking tape if you don'thave masking fluid. The main focal point is the rocks at the intersection of the bottom third. Notice that the sun is oval shaped because we will put some clouds over it later.
Step 2 - Undercoat
I'm using only three colours throughout this picture, apart from near the end, for colour harmony. I've wet most of the paper. Then applied a wet -on-wet wash covering the sky and sea by dropping in camium yellow around the oval, then cadmium red around that and then cobalt blue around that. If you don't have these precise colours then use any three - a yellow, red and blue. Let the colours drift into each other. Don't touch the sky with your brush once you've dropped the colours in. Have a cup of tea until everything dries or use a hairdryer. Remove the masking fluid from the sun once everything is dry.
Step 3 - the hills in the background and undercoat for the rocks
Use a weak mixture of blue and red to shape the hills at the back avoiding the tree trunk but when you get to the thin area below the sun drop in a bit more red and yellow and allow it to spread sideways. Let it dry.
Notice from the picture that there are lots of areas unpainted on the rocks. Dampen some areas of the rocks using the flat part of your brush rather than the edge and use the same weak mixes of three colours for the undercoat on the rocks. You should have some hard and soft edges. Have another cuppa or do something else until it dries.
Step 4 - second coat on the rocks and the tree trunk
Pre-mix red and yellow, blue and red, blue red and yellow and add to your rocks but don't cover everywhere - leave some whites and concentrate these darker colours near to the crevasses and darker sides away from the sun. I use a flat brush for this stage. Don't overdo it at this stage. Paint in your main branch using a lighter colour facing the sun and a darker one in the shadow. Get your hairdryer at the ready. Turn your picture upside down and paint a second coat over the sea using a mixture of the red and cobalt blue (like paynes grey) and before it is dry, lift out the darker areas under the sun's path using a dry thirsty brush or a tissue. Now run to the hairdryer before you get too many back-runs. Don't fiddle if you do, we can mend it with pastels later on.
Step 5 - adding the darker tones
Rocks can be tricky. Decide which way they are going to slope first. Mix your blue and red to get a dark colour - add a touch of yellow if necessary. Use fine lines and a rigger brush to define the shape of the big rocks and darken them at the intersections. With a damp brush, run it along the edge of some of your lines to get some soft edges. Don't overdo it. Using your cadmium yellow, and not much water, use a fat round brush on it's side to dab in the highlights for your little bush.
Step 6 - branches, leaves and back to sky and sea.
It's at this point where I always make a mess so read to the end first. Put a darker coat of green on your bush, add in the branchs for your big tree and a few leaves. I used a weakish purple mix to suggest shadows on the rocks from the trees and have added it to the foreground sea to suggest a few ripples.
I took a risk after decideing that my sun wasn't bright enough and lightly sprayed the area and added more cadmium yeloow and a touch of red. Thought it was still a bit pale and decided to add a few clouds but it turned into a mess. Added a few yellows and organges to the rocks and trees and a hint of the sun in the water. There a still problems - the sun is a mess, and now too dark, the water isn't dark enough, the sky is a bit too light but won't stand much messing about now. I will have to retrieve it with pastels.
Step 7 - correcting the errors
I've got a little spray bottle 99p which is invaluable. I used it to spray out some of the colour of the sun and the dense trees. The tonal balance still wasn't right so I mixed a good dark colour and swished it over the sea again. Once the sea was dry, I used the spray to lift out some sections below the sun and blotted them with a paper towel. If you don't have a spray, you can do it with a damp brush. I'm muchhappier now. Will add some spray and a couple of seagulls with pastel to finish it off. Might also darken with pastels the top left hand corner.
Final bit - pastels
I used some pastel pencils to complete the tree and bush. I used ordinary pastels for the rest. I added a dark to the left hand side and base of the rock. Sea pray was added in the foreground and foam trails drifted away to the right so that we have a sort of pointer to the main focal point. A dark purple pastel was dragged across the sun to look like clouds and a whiteish pastel was dragged lightly across the across the surface of the sea to look like sparkles. I added a little more colour to the sky and scrubbed it welll in with a piece of pipe lagging. The last thing was the suggestion of sun rays coming fron beneath the clouds and a few seagulls - always an odd number. I've stopped - but I think it probably needed a darker sky to the left and the sea should perhaps have been greyed down a little. Also, I'm not sold on the sun's rays. There is always something that can be improved.
Step 1 Wensley waterfall - the drawing and composition
This is not an easy composition because of all the green and white so we will have to change it to make it more interesting. I've tried to make the shapes more abstract as there are a lot of straight lines and square'ish blocks. Straight lines make the viewers eye move too quickly through the composition. The light will be coming from over my right shoulder at around the 2pm position. This will allow the brightest colours to glow on the left hand side and the front of the waterfall. The top of the waterfall is is usually the lightest bit and gets the most light but we are positioned below it and can't see the top. I'm going to make the top of the waterfall misty so it recedes. The two long bits on the right hand side are for some imaginary extra trickles of water to balance the main fall - but I will make them different widths. Don't pencil your picture in as dark as mine. You'll notice once again that I don't include any detail in the edges of the picture - to keep the viewer focused in the mid range. You will see too that I have a path leading the viewer' eye into the back of the picture and the waterfall made up of lighter foam in the water. Anything else we need to do at this stage?
Step 2 - the underpainting
I've started with three colours - a pale bluish purple haze to push the top pf the waterfall back, cadmium yellow for the tree and green areas and foreground rocks on the left hand side. Make sure this layer is very light (lots of water) and use a big brush. Go and have a cup of tea.
Step 3 - the mid tones
We'll tackle the top first. After drying the paper, I'm going to spot wet the foliage areas across the top right and top left and and drop in a lightish mixture of phalo blue and cadmium yellow to form some darker patches. Don't do it all over. Remember, the lighter bits are forming your lightest leaves. Why do we dry it first? If you don't you start to life the colour underneath and form mud. Also it reduces the potential for cauliflowers. Leave it to dry.
Now move to the rocks at either side of the of half of the water fall.. I tried to drop in some different colours like raw umber and burnt umber and raw sienna into the rocks at the right hand side then scraped the rock shapes out with a credit card. I didn't work very well on the paper I'm using but it looked a bit better once it dried. On the left hand side I used cadmium and burnt umber and a touch of the tree mixture and painted it on taking care to keep the layers soft edges and to leave a few white bits for the sunlight hitting the tops of the rocks.
I then went back in and added a few darker details
Step 4 - adding some darker tones
I've darkened the bushes at the top, added some rock crevasses and defined the rocks a bit more. I got a bit scared at this point and put it away for the night. You'll notice that Ive lost the 2 little trickles I was planning to put in on the right hand side. I might try to recover the white of the paper by lifting off. If it doesn't work I'll correct it with with pastel which contains the same pigments as watercolour. to be continued....
Step 4 - undercoat for the water and shaping the rocks with mid-tone
Plucked up courage to continue with this one. I added more mid-tones to the rocks and tried to carve them out a bit. Also, added the undercoat for the water - taking care not to get too dark too soon. I added some blotches in the foregraound that will become rocks underwater when i lift off a soft edged highlight. The direction of the water was shown by dragging the bush slightly in the direction I wanted. I've lost my 2 little streams on the right hand side and tried to lift them out but it didn't work. If i still want them at the end I'll pop a bit of pastel on. On the left hand side, I darkened the top half of the rocks to push them back and make the waterfall seem further away.
Step 5 final touches
I've added another midtone to the water at the edges under the rocks. Also lifted off the top of the underwater rocks. And finally add a few cast shadows from the trees on the left and darkened the rocks mid stream and at the bottom of the cliff. Then added a couple more rock shapes into the waterfall making sure the tops were softened where the water will be hitting. Softened the right hand side of the fall to suggest mistiness. added a few more darks here and there. Finally, used masking tape to lift off the 'suggestion' of a couple of water streams (different widths) coming from the top of the rocks. Is there anything else that needs to be done? With hindisght, I wish I'd pointed my bottom falls to the right instead of the left.
Step 1 Skelwith Bridge - the drawing and composition
We are starting with the rather garish photo of Skelwith Bridge because it's a good composition. You'll notice in the drawing below I have simplified it a lot, concentrating only on capturing the big shapes. I have also included as many abstract shapes as I can. Why do you think I've gone for abstract shapes? Why do you think I've got hardly anything in the sides and bottom of the picture? I suggest once you are happy with the composition that you pencil it in lightly on your paper.
Step 2 - the underpainting (the lightest tones)
We are going to do the sky and the trees first. Peter would use phalo blue and cadmium yellow for this bit which he pre-mixes separately. Use a big brush and wet the paper down to the top of the bridge and extend it down each side a little avoiding the place where your tree trunks are gong to be and stopping at the water line on the right hand side. Don't worry if it runs into the bridge. When the sheen has gone off the paper, drop in some patches of phalo blue for the sky and across a few of the trees in random brush marks. Don't try to fill in the whole lot but leave space for your cadmium yellow which you are going to wash across the top and middle of the trees. Where it meets the blue it will bleed into it forming a light green. Odd blue patches will act as sky holes in the trees. Remember this wash is going to be your lightest colour so don't be heavy handed. Now make a cup of tea and let it dry.
Step 3 - the mid tones
Continuing with the trees for the moment we are going to add in some clumps and dots. The clumps will form the biggest areas of leaves and the dots will be the odd leaves on the outside edges Remember for this 2nd layer that we need to leave lots of random areas unpainted as this will allow the first layer to shine through as clumps of lighter leaves. For this stage, Peter mixed his phalo blue and cadmium yellow together to form a mid green. If you have any comments or question so far ask them on Whats app or email.
Step 4 - underpainting for the bottom half of the painting.
This stage will be wet on dry. We'll start with the bridge. Get a nice cool grey mix using ultramarine and burnt umber and a flat brush to add detail to the wall. Leave some highlights for the tops of some of the stones where the light might hit. Include the underside of the bridge.. Add a tiny spot of alizarin crimson to the same mix to paint the undercoat on some of the rocks in the foreground - again, remembering to leave some white at the top of the rocks for highlights. Its a good idea to clump some of the rocks into bigger groups so the viewer doesn't get tired of looking at every pebble. Use a stronger mix of of ultamarine and burnt umber for the tree trunks. Paint it down the left hand side side of the trunk and then soften it off by running a damp brush along side letting the paint bleed into the damp area to create a rounded effect. Go back to your cadmium yellow for the green grass on the banks. Wash that in lightly and drop in some phalo blue and burnt umber to create variation . Remember this is still an undercoat so it should be a weak mixture. We will leave the water until last.
Step 4 darker tones
Add darker ones of the same colour mix into your trees. Use a light tone of burnt umber for the top of your rocks - still leaving some white highlights. Add a little cadium yellow to vary the tones. Remember to get slightly warmer mixes as you move into the foreground. Put your mid tone on the bridge (same colour mix as before) and again keep it quite weak and remember to leave the lighter tones showing through in places. Can you see that I've left some reflected light showing on the much darker underside of the bridge? Its hard work to do it, but I'm still trying to keep all my shapes as abstract as I can. When it's finished, the 4 corners should all be different and every couple of inches should be different to hold the viewer's attention. My bridge looks flat from one side to the other so I'm going to vary the colour a bit making the far side a little darker in tone. The same needs to be done from top to bottom. If you can spot other things that I can do or change, don't hesitate to let me know.
Step 5 undercoat for the water (lightest tones)
If we squint at the original photo we can see the lightest tones are down the middle of the river, with blueish tones on the left and greenish tomes on the right. In the foreground are some short grasses giving a burnt umber tone. The water is more ultramarine blue further back. The blue in the foreground is reflecting the phalo blue of the sky. I paint the water wet on dry, leaving white edges around the top of the rocks (or trying to) The right hand side of the water is treated like the trees with some blobs of cadmium yellow and phalo blue mixed in large blobs. Just as an aside, its useful for checking your tonal values if you remember that the sky is almost always the lightest part of a landscape (because it gets the most light), the horizonal areas like grass and water are usually the next lightest (a mid light value) and the vertical masses like trees are usually a mid or a mid dark value. Another mistake I've spotted is that my rocks aren't round enough for river rocks. I should have softened off the hard edges with a damp brush before the paint dried.
Step 6 the second water coat (mid tone)
We leave the lighter parts of the water with just one coat but add another coat of colour to the darker areas. which are overhung by the trees. Try to vary the colour a little but stick with the few colours we've used already as that promotes colour harmony. I've made a mess of my rocks by dividing them up too small but will try to correct that in the final stage. I've also just noticed that the right hand side bank is falling away too much so I will correct that too. One more thing you must remember is to keep all your water strokes horizontal as water doesn't flow uphill and it can be disconcerting when you see that. Also, you will notice that I have ignored the burnt umber grasses in the foreground - might put them in at the final stage.
Final Stage - shadows and tidying up, adding fine detail
Peter uses a weak mix of ultramarine and burnt umber for his shadows. They are both very transparent colours and the colour underneath can still come through. I often add a hint of alizarin or purple to warm the shadows up. The light is coming from the right hand side at about 2 o'clock. So where are the shadows? They will be mostly to the left of everything - trees, bushes and rocks. Use your shadows to define the shape of the bank sides and the shape of the rocks and remember that the lower leaves of the trees will also be affected by shadows. Shadows of branches will affect the tree trunks and will be curved slightly around the tree. The bridge should have cast shadow from the bushes on the right and the base of the bridge on the right will get less light than the base of the bridge on the left. Use a small brush at this stage to finish off the details and branches. Have a cup of tea. Look again at your picture. Take a photo of it or look at it in the mirror and decide if anything is irritating you. No? Well done - go and have a bar of chocolate and send your picture to me.