Apr 14, 2016

What’s Going on Back There? - Painting Tips - Backgrounds


 I blame it on my kids.  They were the ones that started me on it.  Starbucks Caramel Frap.  Warm weather is happening and nothing is as nice as an ice cold Caramel Frappuccino.  (Well I am sure there are few other things but not at that price!)   These refreshing moments don’t just happen.  Everything is planned, measured, shaken, stirred, whizzed and presented.  Just like my picture “Still Green”.  
STILL GREEN - watercolour - part of my Chickadees in the Garden series

You know how it works.  You have your plan.  In my case, I am working on a series “Chickadees in the Garden”.  My challenge is to find things in the garden that my little chickadees would be interested in.  Then find a place for them to ‘be’.   For “Still Green”, I was thinking of those warm summer days.  The garden is in, things are growing fast and furious; it is a sea of green.   (Hence the thoughts of ice cold Caramel Fraps whirling about in my mind)  My tomatoes are getting bigger and bigger each day and soon they will be that rich, luscious red.  Nothing beats a ripe tomato still warm from the summer garden. Okay, I admit, I am totally ready for the warm summer weather.

My main ingredients were ready.  But what do you do with the background?  You don’t want all that detail.  You don’t want all that green. But it can't be left just plain.

Lessons can be learned from that frap. 

Once the main ingredients: milk, espresso, and caramel syrup are in your container, it is the ice that does the magic!
Here are my Main Ingredients: tomatoes, stalk, chickadee and a few leaves.
I assembled my ingredients first.  I wanted to see what colours I could push into my picture to extend the idea of ‘green’.  These colours became my ice. Working wet into wet I dropped my colours into the background.  I let them bang and crash together, mix and mingle, shove and jostle about.  Then dry.  There is no time to fiddle.  Remember that shot of expresso - 10 seconds and its dead. That wet into wet is the same way.  Get in and get out.

 our paper will dry quickly so no time to rework things;  hard edges and mud are waiting to happen.  As I drop my colours I am thinking a dark by a light, a light by a dark and a mid-tone  by mid-tones to keep them from taking charge.

Still Green with background colours dropped in. 

Once it is dry, time for the topping: a puff of whipping cream and a drizzle of caramel.  Ahhhh. . . It’s Ready!
My picture is nearly ready too.  Those bits of colour are now suggesting a branch, a leaf, or more fruit. Now they need their puff.  They are too bright.  I can push them back with light glazes of Ultra Marine. That light blob beside the tomatoes on the right suddenly started to look like another tomato behind it. (not on finished piece above)   It is amazing what the power of suggestion will do. This is the Magic of art. I did a few more small glazes to push some areas further back, my drizzle of caramel and then "Still Green" was done. 

Try some colour dropping in your background, use the colours that are found in your subject.  Let them crash about and see what they suggest.  Get your magic working.  And try a Caramel Frap, if you haven't had one.  They are good.
See another example of backgrounds and the power of suggestion here. (My March 19, 2015 post.)

Have you got any secrets for finishing up your backgrounds? I would love to hear them.  Backgrounds always seem to be a challenge.

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Brenda Hill CDM said...

enjoying the chickadee series Wendy

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Thanks, I am having lots of fun with it