This is a peaceful little scene I put together from photos around my house. The great egret sits on a fallen tree I can see from my kitchen window, and I modeled the trees and water from other views around the house. Below I will show you the steps I used to complete this painting. Most of the WIP pics were taken under my table lamp, so the colors vary a bit in the pics.
1. After I sketched the scene onto the paper and taped it down to my board, I painted the egret and her reflection with masking fluid to preserve the whites and allow me to paint freely over them. After the masking fluid dried I wet my paper with a large flat brush and covered the entire paper with varying washes of cobalt blue. Once that dried I added the distant treeline across the lake with a mixture of cobalt blue with a little transparent oxide red (similar to burnt sienna, but better, I think) and new gamboge.
2. Next I wet the entire lake area again and added more wave patterns to the water, using the large flat brush and mostly cobalt blue, with some trans. oxide red and payne's gray. Once that dried (with the help of my hair dryer ;) I added the first layer of foliage to the trees, using a mixture of new gamboge, thalo blue (also spelled pthalo), and a little trans oxide red.
3.The next step is pretty much like the second steps repeated, except you increase the values of the greens and the blues. In the water I added a bit more paynes gray and added more shadowy areas. In the foliage I switched from gamboge to quinacradone gold and increased the amount of thalo blue.
*Tip-When painting foliage of any kind it helps to remember the shape of the bunches. They work the same way as any other smooth shape, except with leafy patterns. The side facing the light source is lighter, and the shape gets darker the further it is from the light source.
4. Here I have added another layer of leafy shapes, this time using more thalo blue and trans. oxide red and less quin. gold to get a really dark, rich green. While that was drying I removed the masking from the egret and added shadows and other details to her. I also painted the branch she's standing on and details to the reflections of bird and perch. When I paint reflections of this kind, I have two brushes, one with paint and one with clean water to blend the edges, so they look natural. Then I painted masking fluid on some of the green leaves where they overlapped the tree trunks so that I could work on the trunks without worry. When the masking was dry, I wet the tree trunks, wiped off the sheen with a paper towel, and painted each of them with two vertical brush strokes. On the light sides of the trees I used a mix of mostly trans oxide red and a little cobalt blue and on the shadow sides I used mostly cobalt blue with a little trans oxide red. I also added some wet-in-wet wavy shapes to the water with some green leftover from painting the foliage, to suggest the reflection of the trees.
5. Once the tree trunks dried, I used the same mixes I did for the first layer, and painted on the lines that represent the shaggy bark on the hickory trees. The paint left on my palate had dried up some, so it was darker in value and perfect for adding the lines on both sides of the trunks- light and shadow. To finish the painting, I added more details and contrast to the egret and her perch, added branches to the trees, and signed my name!
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