Exercise 4: Monochrome studies

For this exercise, I first prepared two sheets of A3 with the background colours. One with an opaque mixture of black and white to create a light grey colour. The second sheet was with a wash mixture of Sap Green and Burnt Umber to create a really dirty earth colour.

I drew several winter trees in my sketchbook, then decided on a close up sketch to work from instead of other full tree sketches that I had also completed. I really preferred working on a close up scale for this exercise, the shapes were amazing.

(My sketch with pen, that I worked from to create the paintings).

Earlier sketches:

(Earlier sketches with charcoal).

I then used my pen sketch to use the opaque mixture to paint in the negative shapes on to the wash background sheet. Followed by using the dark wash colour to fill in the positive shapes on to the opaque background sheet. Comparing the two opposite techniques on the same subject has been fascinating and produced two very incredible effects. I discovered that the control of the paint was very different too. The opaque over the dark wash created quite a ‘spooky’ effect. Making the painting even more like winter, very cold and misty.

The connotations of these two paintings are very different. I favoured working on the dark wash with the opaque paint mixture. There was much more control of the paint with regards to the negative area using the opaque mixture as the second layer. It reminded me of a horror/ mythical setting. This could be really useful for future work.

T.P.O.P. monochrome studies Dark wash 1st

(Dark dirty colour wash first, then negative shapes with opaque grey).

With regards to working on the opaque background, I found that the dark wash had a variety of capabilities to explore. It was capable of a denser effect when needed, that held the marks that were created by the brush really well. Then had the ability to create a more transparent colour for branches in the distance

T.P.O.P. monochrome studies Opaque first

(Opaque grey first, then positive shapes with dark dirty wash).

Reflecting on this entire exercise, I have to say that I found it had both it’s successful and unsuccessful moments. I chose to keep the branches very blocked and bold in colour as I felt that this emphasized the contrast really well. I found the branches detail more natural on the opaque background in comparison to working on the dark wash. However the sky looked much better in my opinion working on the dark wash with the opaque grey.

With regards to future work this has given me the opportunity to practice techniques that will be of great benefit to my paintings. Texture, tone, detail, colour range, also such scenes as Moonlit skies, etc. will look brilliant using skills learnt from this exercise.


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