February 2020 Painting Project Instructions: Woodland Pond

This month’s painting project is a scene in the little woodland in Uig, when the sun was low in the sky, casting a golden light on the tree trunks. Being winter, the trees are without leaves and the grasses dry (see Late Afternoon Walk for a few more photos).

Trees in Uig woodland, Isle of Skye
Click on photo to see larger version

How to approach it: It’s a scene with a lot going on in it, and one of the first decisions will be how much you’re going to include and what level of detail. Will it be richly painted with lots of colours and layers or simplified to main shapes and colours? What about as a monochromatic painting in Payne’s grey or perhaps sepia?

Decide what the main thing(s) is that appeals to you, what catches your eye the most or remains in your mind when you’re not looking at the photo. For me it was the reflected trunks in the pond and the dry grasses in the foreground. The strong vertical lines echo one another, but one set is thick and the other thin.

Then there’s the stand of trees, their pattern of trunks and branches, which could be a painting in itself without the puddle and grasses. So another decision about composition is whether these areas get equal space or will one get more than the other? A potential danger is having a divide in the centre of your composition — in the photo the line at the edge of the pond is curved (not straight) and the grasses go above it, connecting the bottom to the top.

What to use: It’s a subject that lends itself to texture paste and thick paint, building up a surface that’s gnarly and scratchy, as well as painting with a knife, pulling and scratching in all those hard-edge lines with the edge of a knife. It also lends itself to mixed media, with layers of line drawn or painted over shapes of colour or collage.

For a painting that’s more abstract, about pattern and textures, here’s a photo of the same scene taken from a slightly different angle and with the trees cropped off.

For further inspiration: have a look at the paintings from the Tall Trees project.

To have your painting included in the project gallery, email me a photo on art(at)marion(dot)scot ideally with a few sentences about it (think of the things you might say when talking to a friend about it). I’ll post photos with first names only, unless you ask me otherwise. Happy painting!

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