I am back from my trip to Spain, where I was lucky enough to spend my fortieth birthday.
I have had so many people asking me whether becoming forty bothers me.
It's an odd question really because what's the alternative? That doesn't bear thinking about, right?
Besides - it's just a number, and when I checked, on the morning of my birthday, everything appeared to be in the same place as was the day before. Phew!
The only thing that bothers me is that time is passing by so quickly and I want it to slow down!
We had a lovely time in Spain. Aside from giving us the break we needed, it also gave me new inspiration for my next few watercolour landscapes.
As you know, landscapes are not my thing. Actually, I don't enjoy painting them at all and it almost always shows!
I still have lots of them to do over the next few months for my course and I have not been looking forward to it.
That said - the landscapes in Spain were so different than what I see daily at home, that it gave me that little spark of inspiration that I needed to spur me on.
The light in the Meditteranean is different somehow and as a result of this, the colours are pure and the shadows strong.
We stayed with friends who live amongst acres of farmland and there was a particular route cutting through the fields of wheat, straw, barley and such like, along which Paul and I walked everyday.
It was during one of these walks that it struck me just how many colours there where in what appeared at first glance to be simply gold.
In fact, as the hot, summer breeze swept through the golden fields I noticed that each stem revealed an abundance of colours; pinks, reds, greens, blues and golds.
Suddenly I could see just why Monet had depicted fields of straw in the many colours that he did. I had presumed that this was something that he done simply to add interest - but no; he had seen what I now saw.
The question is, though I'm sure I could easily paint these colourful fields in oils or acrylics - how can I capture these colourful grasses in watercolour?
Painting wet in wet would mean the colours will merge to brown and painting wet on dry will surely do the same, only in translucent layers?
Hmmm... I really need to think about this.
First of all, in preparation for my first Spanish landscape, I have sketched the scene I have in mind in ordinary graphite pencil. I like the composition and I have deliberately made the barley field a large part of it...
|© Sandra Busby. Graphite pencil|
...Now - there are two rules in painting, which can sometimes contradict each other. The first is that as trees recede in to the distance, they become paler. The second is to paint what you see and not what you know.
In this instance, those pointy trees in the distance are actually very dark compared to anything else within the landscape, even those smaller trees and bushes which are in front of them. Aside from the fields, those dark, pointy trees are partly what drew me to this scene in the first instance.
So - which rule do I follow? The rules of areal perspective? Or painting what I see?....
... I choose to paint what I see and so the trees will stay dark in my final painting. The distant mountains are very pale in contrast and I am hoping that this should be enough to give depth to the painting.
I think I will strengthen the scalloped shadows beneath the roof fascias, but aside from that I think it's ready for me to attempt a painting. What do you think?...
If you have any thoughts on how I can capture the colours in those golden grasses, do tell!